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Tucson Police target unruly parties with 'Red Tags'

Partnership aims to educate UArizona students
Red TagRed tags can be placed on homes determined to have hosted an unruly gathering.
Posted at 10:58 PM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-17 01:58:34-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Tucson Police Department is trying to spread the word about the city’s unruly gathering policy, also known as the ‘Red Tag’ policy, which is enforced across the city.

University of Arizona students living off-campus can be entangled in the Red Tag policy. A gathering of at least five people and a noise complaint called in to TPD can trigger a Red Tag, if police can determine a home indeed hosted a disruptive party.

A ‘Red Tag’ notice, which is actually fluorescent orange, would then be posted on the home. Those attending a gathering at that home afterward could also be cited.

“It basically serves as a warning to let other people know who are going in, ‘Hey, something happened here,’” said Karena Silva, one of two officers in TPD’s Red Tag unit. “And if there’s another incident, you too could potentially be cited because they’ve already been found responsible for the first.”

The first Red Tag offense is $500 per citation, with the second offense $750 and the third $1,000. The owner of the property is notified after a Red Tag and can also be cited if the property has a second offense.

Despite the hefty fines, there is an emphasis on education about the policy, especially for students. TPD is working with the University, who in turn is working with nearby neighborhood leaders.

Alice Roe has lived in the Blenman-Elm neighborhood near the University for 46 years. She is now the chair of the Campus Community Relations Committee, which works with the school and neighbors to solve issues.

Before or after a Red Tag, the committee will send groups to homes in question talk to tenants who have received noise complaints.

“Students add a lot to this community and we are grateful to have them,” Roe said. “In this community we are helping these students become adults. Cause they’re not really yet. They will. But we want them to be responsible community members.”

TPD says 216 Red Tags have been issued so far in 2021, on pace with 2020’s full-year total of 286.

After receiving a Red Tag, the notice must remain with the property for 180 days, even if tenants move out or the property is sold. A $100 fine can be issued if it is removed prematurely.

Those who receive the Red Tag can challenge it in civil court. The Tucson City Court has authority to remove a Red Tag.

The partnership between police, neighborhood leadership and the school encourages students to party responsibly and communicate with neighbors, to avoid receiving a Red Tag at all.

“Know your neighbors, knock on the door,” said Julie Katsel, senior director for local and community relations with UArizona. “Exchange phone numbers so if the neighbors do have any complaints, they can contact the students… work on your relationship with your neighbors so that you can figure out when is a good time to have a party and to be in the pool and play music, and when is not a good time.”