ANNAPOLIS – St. Patrick’s Day has always given police a problem, but that problem grows when March 17 falls on a weekend.
That is why state and local police units tonight are adding drunken driving patrols and checkpoints and beefing up street squads.
While the holiday has a reputation for drunken revelry, there are no more alcohol-related car accidents on St. Patrick’s Day than any other day during the year, according to Maryland State Highway Administration data that date back to 1995.
Nonetheless, Maryland State Police decided to increase the number of troopers working the evening shift to target drunken and aggressive drivers, said spokesman Lt. Joseph Barker. They also will set up a sobriety checkpoint in Cecil County.
“We are just being cautious for the St. Patrick’s Day holiday – that’s all,” Barker said.
Mother’s Against Drunk Driving applauded the police preparation.
“St. Patrick’s Day has grown into very much of a party day,” said Maryland MADD director Brenda Barnes. “And because they don’t have to get up the next day for work (this year), people will be more inclined to indulge.”
Baltimore City Police Department’s Southeast precinct covers Fells Point and Canton, popular bar neighborhoods, and plans to add a few foot and motor patrols to deal with larger crowds, said spokesman Lt. Lawrence Frank.
Neighborhood groups hope this year’s St. Patrick’s Day crowd won’t add to the usual weekend disturbances: urinating in flowerbeds and scattering beer bottles on the street.
“We don’t anticipate any more unruliness than usual, except the beer is going to be green,” said Fells Point Homeowner’s Association President Harriet Kohl.
The festivity of green beer, Irish jigs and corned beef and cabbage should be a safe celebration, said Stephanie Palasik, president of the Canton- Highlandtown Community Association.
“I just hope people can have fun without getting hurt,” she said. “But we’ll see what happens.”
University of Maryland at College Park’s police department also will reinforce night squadrons with five officers to hone in on intoxicated drivers, said spokesman Lt. Don Smith.
“When you have more people gathered, the potential for disorderly conduct increases,” he said. “That’s a given.”