By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – City officials are putting folks on notice who are disturbing downtown residents and defacing their property: Jail is next.
Since fall semester began at the University of Mississippi, residents near the Square have issued a torrent of complaints about noise, theft, vandalism and even public nudity in their neighborhoods.
“After the bars close, people are on their way home or to another party,” said Oxford Police Chief Mike Martin. “They’re walking through the neighborhoods, and the ones that are intoxicated are yelling and screaming. They tear down mailboxes, then we’ve had cars slammed with those mailbox posts and their antennas broken.”
Martin said more homes near downtown Oxford have become rentals in recent years, leading to more drunks walking home or to the home of a friend. The problems mushroom on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, when bar patronage is highest.
Residents have lost porch furniture to walk-by thieves and have found people fighting, urinating and even passed out in their yards.
“We’ve caught a couple engaged in sexual activity in people’s yards,” Martin said.
Increased patrols in the area have brought protests from those being questioned and others on social media that police are harassing pedestrians and encouraging drunk driving.
“If you’re drunk, there’s zero tolerance. Those are the ones doing the damage,” Martin said.
“A lot of mamas and daddies would be surprised if they followed their child around one night,” he added.
Mayor Pat Patterson said the city will protect its residents and their property.
“I’m letting those involved know, students and non-students alike, that we’re starting to crack down,” he said.