CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) - Neighbors who have complained about loud parties thrown by Southeast Missouri State University students have convinced Cape Girardeau officials to consider a city ordinance that would increase police authority to regulate or break up the festivities.
A group of the college's neighbors suggested that the city enact a "nuisance parties" ordinance similar to one enforced in Columbia in 2006. At the direction of the Cape Girardeau City Council, police chief Carl Kinnison and city attorney Eric Cunningham are working on the ordinance and are expected to present it to the council June 6.
Columbia's ordinance defines a "nuisance party" as a social gathering of 10 or more people on a residential property where any of 11 things occur, including fighting, littering, illegal sales or possession of alcohol, public urination, trespassing, noise violations and indecent exposure, The Southeast Missourian reported.
The offenses are already illegal in Cape Girardeau. But the ordinance would allow police to cite the party's hosts and issue citations if those at the party ignore orders to disperse. Fines could be up to $500 with a maximum jail time of 90 days.
That would be welcome news to neighbors such as Linda Hutson, who said the noise and disruption from parties make life miserable.
"During the school year, starting in September, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, I wonder if I'm going to get a good night's sleep or if I'm going to get bumped out of bed at 3 o'clock in the morning," Hutson said.
In the last 12 months, police responded to 158 incidents arising from complaints about loud music, many of them from college parties, and issued 22 summonses for failing to maintain an orderly house. Kinnison estimated 80 percent to 85 percent of loud parties police respond to are hosted and attended by university students.
"I think (the ordinance) would give us another tool to help take care of some of this," Kinnison said.