University of New Mexico Police have responded to more calls for service at Lobo Village – the school's apartment complex where alcohol is permitted for of-age students – than anywhere else on campus.
In the two years Lobo Village has been open, UNM Police have responded to more than 500 calls for service,
the most for any of UNM's student housing, according to dispatch data obtained by KRQE News 13. Police also deal with more calls for disturbances, disorderly conduct, drunk people, drugs and fights at the Lobo Village than elsewhere.
Lobo Village is the school's largest complex, but it is also the only one that allows underage students and alcohol. The apartments sit on university property, but are rented and managed by Texas-based American Campus Communities.
"Anytime you put alcohol in any circumstance, it's going to up the need for a police response," UNM Police Lt. Tim Stump said.
UNM Police must respond to every single call on campus, UNM Hospital and university-run mental health facilities, as well as at off-campus housing, such as the Lobo Village. In the last two years with the opening of Lobo Village and another student apartment complex, the number of students living in school housing has doubled.
"It's quite a lot of people. It's like a city within a city," Lt. Stump said.
KRQE News 13 tagged along with officers on a Thursday night two weeks ago and witnessed firsthand what they're dealing with. In addition to a medical call where one student was having a seizure and a traffic stop for speeding, UNM police responded to Lobo Village for a pulled fire alarm.
Once there, officers discovered a UNM student and CNM student, both underage, who were drunk. Police said the two were suspected of pulling the fire alarm and starting fights in the parking lot.
One teen was tackled to the ground by officers after mouthing off and refusing to obey orders. The two were arrested for resisting arrest and lying about their names. The CNM student was also charged with marijuana possession.
The UNM Police Department is making some changes
to keep up with the growing number of calls. Four new officers started this week to offset the increase in call volume. Lt. Stump also said the department rolled out a new system that allows students to file non-emergency reports, such as thefts, online.
"It's not to replace an officer coming out. If they feel they need contact with an officer, by all means, they're able to utilize that," Stump said. "But it's to free us up to better be out, be visible out on the campus."
Officials at UNM and American Campus Communities said it has rules, such as banning alcohol from public areas and banning big parties at Lobo Village, and students are required to follow them.
UNM Vice President for Student Life Walter Miller said students living at Lobo Village are also bound to the university's student code of conduct.
"As an adult, you have laws you have to follow and we're not going to blink on that," Miller said.
Students who get in trouble with the law also have to answer to the university. All UNM police reports are forwarded to the Dean of Students Office, where troublemakers can be disciplined, ranging from a warning to expulsion. Sanctions depend on the severity of the incident and whether the student has any prior violations, according to UNM officials.
American Campus Communities Executive Vice President Jamie Wilhem said the company notifies the university and UNM Police of any infractions.
"Enforcing our rules and regulation at a community, as well as the code of conduct policies at the university has, generally keeps these students and they behave well," Wilhelm said. "But you can't always say that every student will use good judgment."
Miller said he doesn't believe alcohol has been an issue at Lobo Village. He said the move to allow booze was done to keep students from moving into private housing.
"You look at the number of apartment complexes in closeness (to the university) attracting our students, as well as private homes," Miller said. "We feel it's very important for their academic success to live on campus. There's much of a reward of building community and the connectivity to this institution. Their opportunity to graduate quicker are enhanced."