OSWEGO – Earlier this week, Third Ward Councilor Kevin Hill requested a briefing by Oswego Police and SUNY Oswego Police on strategies currently being employed to address disruption and disorder in city neighborhoods.
Councilor Hill took the opportunity to point to several issues that he has become aware of through constituent communication and personal observation, as well as identifying specific locations that generate concern from area residents, for special attention by law enforcement in the coming weeks.
In addition to being briefed on several on-going strategies such as: the cooperative relationship between the city of Oswego and SUNY Oswego which allows the on-campus administrative sanctions to coincide with in-city enforcement; the referral of those who are under 21 years old, who may have been cited for alcohol related offenses, to the Mayor’s Office so that notification letters can be sent to their home addresses; and the on-going joint “Quality of Life” enforcement details between Oswego Police and SUNY Oswego Police, Councilor Hill discussed with law enforcement the possibility of assistance in the form of his proposed new local legislation referred to as a “Social Host Law.”
The new proposed Social Host Law, a version of which has been enacted by various other municipalities in the state, would aim to make it unlawful for any person older than the age of 18 who owns, rents, or otherwise controls a private residence, to knowingly allow the consumption of alcohol, alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs by any minor (younger than the age of 21) on such premises or to fail to take reasonable corrective action upon learning of the consumption of alcohol , alcoholic beverages or use of illegal drugs by any minor on such premises.
This is slightly different from current New York State Legislation, which only governs the actual giving or selling of alcohol to a person less than 21 years of age.
The proposed local law would place the responsibility on the host where such illegal acts may be occurring.
The local “Social Host Law” is still in draft form and will require the City’s Planning and Development Committee and Common Council to approve a public hearing before a final vote.
According to Councilor Hill, “From various accounts, there has been a shift from large crowds in downtown bars, to more informal gatherings and house parties that generate complaints of disruption and disorder in our neighborhoods. The proposed social host legislation would be another tool that local law enforcement can use in conjunction with current local and state law to assist in addressing disorderly behavior, noise and general disruptions in our community.”
“We have an obligation to protect the quality of life of our residents and it’s time we take action by giving local law enforcement an additional tool to do just that,” Hill added.
Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said, “I support Councilor Hill’s proposed legislation. My administration has focused heavily on improving our neighborhoods and improving the quality of life for City residents. With house parties, the potential for underage alcohol consumption or illegal drug use increases and so do the associated problems such as disruptive or disorderly behavior directly in our neighborhoods. By giving law enforcement another tool, we are taking the next step in providing a safe environment for our younger generations while striving to provide peaceful neighborhoods for all of our community members.”
The discussion regarding the sending the proposed Social Host Law to a public hearing is scheduled to be presented by Councilor Hill at the next Planning and Development Committee meeting.