The Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement is cracking down on underage drinking at Philadelphia colleges as the fall semester begins, although it is currently unclear whether BLCE officers will patrol near Penn during New Student Orientation.
In a press release issued earlier this week, the BLCE said that it will collaborate with university and local police departments to “aggressively” enforce underage drinking laws with “zero tolerance.”
The Division of Public Safety deferred comment on BLCE patrols during NSO to the BLCE. BLCE Sergeant Dan Steele, commander of the Philadelphia district office, declined to comment on whether the BLCE will patrol campus during NSO. Steele was also unaware of any citations the BLCE has made near Penn's campus during previous NSOs.
In recent years, the BLCE has begun to more aggressively enforce underage drinking laws near Penn’s campus. At Spring Fling this year, the BLCE cited 20 individuals for underage drinking. The previous year, the state liquor police issued 31 citations for underage drinking near campus. This marked a contrast from 2012, when the BLCE did not patrol on campus during Fling.
If an individual under 21 years old is convicted of underage drinking — a summary offense in Pennsylvania which goes on a person's driving record — he or she can be charged a fine of up to $500 if it’s the first time and $1,000 if the student had been cited before. The fines can also come with a driver’s license suspension.
The press release also noted that BLCE officers will be enforcing laws prohibiting sales of alcohol to people under 21 years old — a misdemeanor offense. At house parties and fraternity parties, BLCE officers “often enter … undetected,” according to the release.
BLCE will also be working with local campus administrators to develop ways to reduce underage drinking, the release stated. Steele said in an email that the BLCE anticipates assisting Penn Police with "educational initiatives and enforcement to ensure [the] safety of all parties with a vested interest in the university community."
During NSO, Penn Police has an increased presence on campus to help with move-in and "provide safety and security during this first, traditionally busy time of the academic year," DPS said in a statement.
"The safety and security of our students is our top priority," the statement continued.