ORONO, Maine — A police presence at The Grove apartments over Labor Day weekend prevented the large gatherings that created “near riot conditions” last year, the Orono chief of police said Monday.
Between four and five officers patrolled the apartment complex that houses 620 tenants from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, Sunday and early Monday morning, Chief Josh Ewing said.
The North-Carolina-based Campus Crest Community Inc., which owns the property, paid to have officers at the complex the weekend before classes at the University of Maine were set to begin.
“I think our presence kept down the size of the gatherings,” Ewing said Monday. “We saw one crowd of about 30 or 40 people Sunday night and we hung out with them just talking. Without our presence, I think the crowd would have grown and grown and become a problem like last year.”
Last year, police were dispatched about 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, just hours after residents began moving into the newly completed complex, for a noise complaint, according to a previously published report. Ewing said last year that police arrived to find hundreds of people “drinking, yelling and listening to music.”
The next night’s gathering drew a larger, rowdier crowd of about 500 people, Ewing said last year. The Maine State Police, who were called to back up local police, described “near riot conditions” at the complex.
“The Grove is in a better position this year to show it wants a peaceful, safe existence for their tenants,” Ewing said Monday.
Officers from Orono, Veazie, Old Town and the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office worked together in an effort to keep the back-to-school parties from getting out of hand, he said.
Officers summoned a dozen individuals for possession of alcohol by a minor, three for possession of marijuana and one for furnishing alcohol to a minor. Two people were arrested. One was charged Saturday with criminal trespass and criminal mischief, Ewing said. Another was charged Sunday with violating his bail conditions.