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The Daily Tar Heel

Students rattled by officer’s visit for noise complaint

Housemates Zach Rachuba and Jerome Allen were taken by surprise when a Chapel Hill police officer and the director of the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life and Community Involvement showed up at their door one Friday, seemingly out of the blue.

The visit from Officer Mike Mineer and Aaron Bachenheimer was part of an initiative to educate off-campus students on the town noise ordinance and to promote being a good neighbor. Mineer said reaching out to students has had a pronounced effect on noise complaint numbers.

“Since that has started and we have been religiously doing follow-ups, calls in the 2013-14 calendar year have dropped by almost 18 percent,” he said.

Rachuba and his three housemates received a noise complaint during a February party. The junior said he was surprised to see an armed officer and a University official at their doorstep nearly a month after the noise complaint.

“It was really inappropriate,” Rachuba said. “We don’t need an off-campus RA.”

Mineer said part of his job as an officer in the town of Chapel Hill’s criminal investigations and alcohol law enforcement division is to review the past week’s noise complaint reports. Every week, Mineer said he spends about two hours making follow-up visits to the houses with noise complaint reports. Mineer said snow, spring break and personal vacations delayed some of his visits in March.

Allen said the 15-minute follow-up visit from Bachenheimer and Mineer felt condescending and insincere.

“He tried to say things like ‘we’re just looking after you,’” Allen said. “He wanted to be on our side, but we knew he wasn’t on our side.”

Mineer said his goal is to reinforce the good neighborhood partnership and explain the Chapel Hill town ordinance that covers noise. He said he wants to help students avoid the misdemeanor violation, which involves a fine of up to $150 plus court costs.

Mineer said Chapel Hill is the only town he is aware of that conducts in-person follow-up visits for noise complaints. He said that most students are cooperative and appreciative of the visit.

“Ninety-nine percent of the students we talk to are very receptive,” Mineer said. “We want you to have a good time without getting in trouble.”

Mineer said Rachuba and Allen were an exception.

“They were the most uncooperative residents we’ve ever encountered … I’ve made an arrest for drugs and those people were more polite,” he said.

Rachuba said he has written a letter to Chancellor Carol Folt about the issue, and housemate Kenzie Kline said she would follow suit.

“I think the whole thing was totally unnecessary,” Kline said. “We’re adults. We don’t need another lecture. If we do something to get us in trouble again, it’s really on ourselves.”

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