The social atmosphere on campus this past weekend was decidedly uneasy, as students tried to gauge how Campus Safety and Security and the Williamstown Police Department (WPD) would respond to an incident on Saturday, Oct. 13, in which a WPD patrol car’s tire was slashed as officers were breaking up a party at 18 Meadow St.
“We saw more arrests and knew about WPD being more present this weekend,” said Dean Merrill. According to Security account logs, two students were cited with liquor-law violations and two more were arrested for having open containers between Friday night and Sunday morning. WPD Chief Kyle Johnson claimed, however, that these numbers were not out of the ordinary.
When asked whether the police department was doing anything differently in response to the tire-slashing or whether there was increased police activity around campus this weekend, Johnson said no on both accounts.
Nevertheless, from Fayerweather to Agard to Spencer, students reported that their parties were broken up with an alacrity that struck some as strange. Ariel White, ’11, was in Fayerweather Hall when a Security officer arrived to address a noise complaint. “He warned us that students who would normally get only a warning were now getting arrested,” she said.
Ron Gagnon, owner of the Spirit Shoppe, reported increased police activity outside his establishment over the weekend. According to Gagnon, WPD officers questioned several customers outside of the Spirit Shoppe. “We asked if we did anything wrong and the police said [that] everything was fine. [The police] said they were doing this everywhere. [But] they said they would not be doing this every weekend.”
“[The increased police activity] really had nothing to do with the store and they bothered no one in the store,” Gagnon added. “They were on the street talking to people out of the shop. What they were asking I have no clue, but there were no real issues as far as I could tell.”
WPD also stationed officers outside West’s Liquor Store at intervals over the weekend.
The Red Herring, the lone Spring Street Bar, was also under extra WPD scrutiny this weekend. Ron Cantelon, who worked the Saturday shift at The Herring, said he noticed a change in WPD’s presence. “Since I’ve heard of this incident on Meadow Street, that’s when I’ve seen the extra police,” he said. “They’ve asked our doormen to be more vigilant but we have a pretty tight crew.” Johnson said that WPD had not been in contact with the Herring.
“It’s not uncommon for the police to become very proactive and increase enforcement at the beginning of the school year,” said Jean Thorndike, director of Security. She declined to respond further to specific questions about this weekend’s police activity.