Project LEARN should crash and burn

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

September 7, 2007 Ed Cartoon

London Police Service’s Project Liquor Enforcement and Reduction of Noise (LEARN) focuses on stricter bylaw enforcement and increased fines. Unfortunately, it also targets students.

The police officers enforcing Project LEARN can do so without complaints from neighbours. Hence, the authorities have been actively seeking out students. For example, last Monday night, there were no convictions, of the 66 arrests made because of the initiative, 62 were students.

Police officers and Nancy Branscombe, a Ward Six councillor strongly backing Project LEARN, are trying to sell it as a geographical problem; addressing certain hot spots in the city where the most trouble occurs.

It’s obvious that it is primarily students that live in these “trouble areas.” The fact that police can now preemptively seek out troublemakers means that politicians and police are headhunting students in these locations.

Project LEARN also gives students a bad reputation. By and large, the part time and full time citizens of London are wonderful people that should be able to co-exist; an initiative like Project LEARN creates an adversarial relationship where there does not need to be one.

Also, with the wave of break and enters occurring around the city recently, one would hope that police resources could be better utilized. Is busting a few groups of keg drinkers or pot smokers really the best use of their time?

However, London is still a family-oriented, suburban-style city, and the permanent citizens must adjust from the quiet four months of summer to again being bombarded with noise.

Apart from the more infamous student ghetto areas in Ward Six, most neighbourhoods in London are geared toward young, working families and older folks. If students are treating London’s quieter residential areas like Richmond Row, then that’s a problem.

Thousands of new people arriving in London in September definitely need some enforcement. A lot of students get quite rowdy during the first couple weeks back at school

But ultimately, we pay tuition and rent in this town. We work, live and play here, which makes us as much a member of the London community as any other resident. Students have as much a right as anyone else to enjoy themselves, which usually translates into heavy alcohol consumption and larger gatherings of people. This isn’t a new phenomenon, London residents have been dealing with rowdy Western and Fanshawe students for decades.

The police ought to be cracking down on the most egregious bylaw offenders - bylaws exist so that people in the community can live in harmony.

A blitz that ruins fun for even the responsible students, though, is simply unfair.

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