Seven Georgetown students were arrested last weekend for offenses ranging from possession of an open container of alcohol to urinating in public, inspiring student fears of a crackdown by the etropolitan Police Department.

According to David Morrell, vice president for university safety, six of the students were arrested for possessing an open container of alcohol. An additional charge of possessing marijuana was lodged against one of the six students and a seventh was charged with public urination. Four additional individuals were arrested for similar offenses over the weekend but none of them were Georgetown students.

All of the offenses are classified as criminal misdemeanors in the District.

Morrell said that MPD is increasing its enforcement operations near Georgetown’s campus but said it was too early to see if the number of arrests is a “trend.”

“They’ve certainly increased coverage in response to university concerns and the concerns of numerous neighbors,” he said. “MPD is out there in larger numbers than we’ve ever seen before but hopefully this will be a good thing for everyone.”

But MPD police officer Barbara Cromer insisted yesterday that officers have not been targeting Georgetown students.

“We’re not targeting them at all and we have no team working to arrest Georgetown students,” she said. “We don’t normally have so many arrests in one weekend but this is something that happens periodically. You will be arrested if you violate the law.”

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Brett Clements (COL ’07) said that MPD is not targeting students specifically but is trying to solve an epidemic of neighborhood complaints.

“I think that while it’s important that Georgetown students maintain their rights, sometimes there are issues with destruction of property and vandalism by Georgetown students in the neighborhood,” he said. “Neighborhood complaints could be seen as an action directly contributing to these arrests.”

MPD will probably continue its enforcement actions near campus for the next few weeks, Clements added.

This is not the first time that the police have engaged in large scale arrests for alcohol related offenses near Georgetown. In Sept. 1998, 53 Georgetown students were arrested for underage drinking over a two week period. In Mar. 2001, the police arrested 25 students during the month. In Sept. 2002, 16 Georgetown students were arrested for underage drinking in a single weekend.

Last semester, the D.C. city council voted to decriminalize underage drinking and it is now a civil offense. Carol Elder Bruce, an attorney with Venenable, L.L.P, is currently representing over 3,500 students seeking to receive compensation and have their criminal records for underage drinking expunged.

“My sense is that police are using open container laws now that . underage drinking is now longer a criminal offense,” Elder Bruce said. “They’re using these laws to arrest people.”

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