Alcohol abatement project leads to large-scale party busts

It’s no coincidence that the party bust on Oct. 20 at 404 W. Center St. was broken up the same week as last year’s large-scale party on Highland Street – the week before homecoming.

Otterbacher

The Whitewater Police Department created an alcohol abatement project to deter binge drinking and underage consumption of alcohol by following the crowds of students.

Senior Tyler Teifke and sophomores Sean Mainland and Sean Sherwood were charged with hosting the party, which was busted due to the abatement project.

Between the three of them, $7,815 in fines were given.

There was approximately $255 collected at the party from the hosts selling the alcohol.

Sgt. Brian Uhl said the money will go to the state first. Then the courts will see their share and the city of Whitewater will get the rest. He said the police department does not get any of the money.

“As far as who we go to and where we go to, we don’t say we are going to pick a certain house,” Uhl said. “We follow a crowd.”

Uhl said the department doesn’t rely on neighbors of house parties to call in, but instead “rely on the students to show us where the parties are.”

The abatement procedure is purposley amped up the week before homecoming to let students know that the police are paying attention to underage parties and that there are consequences, Uhl said.

Police Chief Lisa Otterbacher said it’s the security measures that worry her most.

“Somebody could be assaulted or harmed and it’s so congested in a small, confined basement area,” Otterbacher said. “It’s unfortunate, but students only look at it as everyone getting together and having a good time.”

Uhl said the procedure is fairly quick. Once they have the house they want to bust, the police call the district attornies in Walworth County to request they write a search warrant.

“Once we’re in, we seperate all the people of legal age and get them out,” Uhl said. “Then those who are underage, we get names, write tickets and deliver them.”

Teifke, 21, was charged with three counts of selling alcohol without a license at $505 per ticket. He was also charged with three counts of furnishing alcohol to underaged people, which totals to $1,260 between the three $420 tickets.

Mainland, 20, is facing six citations of furnishing alcohol to underaged people. With each ticket costing $420, Mainland is expected to pay $2,520 in fines.

Sherwood, 21, faces the same fines as Mainland; six counts of furnishing alcohol to underaged people.

Otterbacher said although technically each of the hosts could face 90 counts of each citation, the police are cooperative with party hosts if they’re willing to be cooperative back.

If the hosts are cooperative, Otterbacher said they [the police] will sit down and have a discussion with them on who would like to be held accountable for the actual sale of alcohol.

Uhl was on duty for the Highland Street party bust last year and was called in to interrupt it.

“When I went down there, I literally could not move,” Uhl said. “It’s a problem. What if there was a carbon monoxide leak? How would everyone get out safely?”

Uhl said that if underage parties are a continual problem, Whitewater residents will start wanting to move.

With binge drinking, also comes “assaults, vandalism and thefts,” Uhl said.

“Students should know they are living in a community with other people as well,” Uhl said. “It’s very disruptive to neighbors.”