Foxborough seeks approval for public inebriation bylaw

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Foxborough Town Meeting on Dec. 5 unanimously approved a home-rule petition asking the Legislature to endorse a bylaw designed to discourage public drunkenness.

Police Chief Ed O’Leary said the town is concerned about an increasing frequency of public drunkenness connected with events at Gillette Stadium and nearby establishments.

Town Meeting approved the home rule petition after the attorney general’s office ruled that an earlier town bylaw conflicts with a state law prohibiting municipalities from treating public drunkenness as a crime or civil offense.

The new proposed bylaw, written prior to the unveiling of a casino proposal in Foxborough, would allow police to impose a $200 fine on individuals who are taken into protective custody due to inebriation.

 

Chief O’Leary said the state law banning such bylaws, passed in 1971, is no longer practical.

Foxborough accounts for 6 percent of all protective-custody cases statewide, due to events at the stadium and an increasing number of establishments with liquor licenses in the adjoining Patriot Place complex, according to O’Leary.

“We’re not talking about destitute alcoholics,” he said. “We’re looking at a rapid increase in binge drinking among people who are more affluent. … If there was a consequence for this behavior, maybe people would hesitate for one second and re-think what they are doing.”

Arthur O’Neill, the police chief in neighboring Mansfield, where the Comcast Center hosts numerous summer concerts, is also a proponent of a local drunkenness bylaw.

“We find ourselves awash in underage people who are in custody,” he said.

Written by MMA Associate Editor Mitch Evich