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Police cracking down on drinking violations around BU

Boston police are cracking down on alcohol violations in areas surrounding the Boston University campus, vowing to arrest offenders beginning in September, officials told a university publication.

Captain Robert Molloy of the BU Police Department said during a recent meeting of the university’s alcohol task force that the Boston police captain who heads the district covering the area approved the policy, according to an article posted Thursday on BU Today, a campus news site published by the university’s marketing and communications arm.

Boston police officials said they had no information on the initiative Thursday night.

Colin Riley, a spokesman for BU, declined to discuss the plan, beyond what was published on the university news site.

“Our students understand that if [you are] not over 21, you shouldn’t be purchasing or having alcohol,” Riley said in a phone interview. “And we hold students accountable for their behavior, whether it’s on campus or off, and certainly understand the need to respect the community and be good neighbors.”

The announcement comes roughly six months after BU suspended a fraternity for hosting an off-campus house party where a 19-year-old student was found unconscious and later died.

University administrators said at the time that they had learned from officials with the national fraternity that the party involved underage drinking.

Beth Lazarus, 19, a physical therapy major at BU, alluded to that tragedy when asked about the new initiative during an interview on campus Thursday night.

“I think it’s good, in that we had that incident last year,” said Lazarus, of Brookline.

However, she said she doubted the plan would deter underage or problematic drinking.

“It’s college,” she said. “Drinking is part of the culture.”

Darryl Johnson, 18, a freshman engineering major from Colorado Springs, said he feared the policy would make people reluctant to seek help during emergencies.

“They’ll be deterred from calling the police,” he said. “No one’s going to call at all if they’re going to be arrested.”

But a classmate, Sarah Kert, 18, a biology major from Nashua, described the crackdown as a positive measure.

“I think it’s kind of a good scare tactic,” she said. “If people are being too crazy, it’ll keep them safer.”

But will it work?

“People will have to see it being enforced,” Kert said.

A student with the BU Inter-Fraternity Council declined to comment on the arrest-first policy Thursday night. Attempts to reach representatives of other student groups were not successful.

“We want to get out there early this year and set the tone,” Boston police Superintendent William Evans told BU Today. “We are going to come down a little harder at the outset than we did last year. When a party gets out of control, we’re going to take action.”

Arrests for alcohol violations will be the “preferred response,” officials told BU Today.

However, the website quoted Molloy as saying that BU officers will continue to use their discretion when they encounter an alcohol violation.

“In most cases, our officers summons the person,” he told the website. “However, each case is different, and there may be circumstances where the officer decides to make an arrest.”

Reaction to the policy was mixed in the comments section of the article.

“This will look good,” one commenter wrote, “arresting your own students for being college students. Unbelievable.”

Another writer, who signed a comment with the moniker Allston, expressed support “because we want to sleep and are sick of the broken glass.”

But on campus Thursday, freshman E.J. Taylor, 18, of West Friendship, Md., was skeptical of the drive.

“I don’t think anything can deter college students,” he said.

Peter Schworm of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Derek J. Anderson contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.
. Nicholas Jacques can be reached at nicholas.jacques @globe.com.