Problem-Oriented Policing

Some Members of the Durham Police Department

The Durham Police are a community engaged full-service police organization serving the Durham and UNH communities via a guardian policing philosophy.  Each September over 3,000 eager and excited Freshmen arrive in our community, some away from home for the very first time.  During this period, the Durham Police attempt to be an engaging organization and are assigned throughout the downtown area to ensure that questions are answered and that everyone is safe as they explore the wonderful things that the community has to offer. 


Additionally the Durham Police have a community policing award winning program called Problem Oriented Policing (POP).  The POP officer is a full-time Durham police officer who visits tenants in student rental properties in the aftermath of a noise complaint incident where police officers responded the night before. It is through these follow-ups that the POP officer builds relationships with tenants while educating the students on various laws and Town Ordinances.  The position places high value on a preventive strategy rather than the court system all designed to contribute to a reduction of problems. The Durham Police Department is committed to adopting a problem-solving model of policing in which we address the root causes of problems, rather than implementing a quick fix.

Below is a brief rundown on potential problems and  the laws and ordinances that deal with them.

Laws Associated With Alcohol
  • RSA 179:10 Unlawful Possession and Intoxication In New Hampshire, an underage person with drinks in his or her system can face the same charge as one with a drink in their hand. This is so-called "internal possession."


  •  Internal Possession of Alcohol  If you are under the age of 21 and intoxicated by consumption of an alcoholic beverage, you are guilty of a violation and will be fined a minimum of $300. A second offense shall be fined at least $600. A blood alcohol level of .02 or more will automatically be considered by the courts to be evidence of intoxication.

  • Unlawful Possession of Alcohol If you are under 21 and have in your possession any liquor or intoxicating beverage, you will be arrested for unlawful possession of alcohol. The charge carries the same fine as internal possession.  


  • Both charges ( unlawful possession and internal possession ) will be applied to your motor vehicle record. The judge has the additional discretion to suspend your driver’s license for up to 90 days .


  • Disorderly Conduct: Section 644:2 of the criminal code provides a list of breaches of the peace, or unruly behaviors. They are commonly  associated with public intoxication and some examples may include:


  • Fighting, violent or threatening behavior in a public place.


  • Obscene, derisive or offensive words directed towards another person that may provoke a violent response.


  • Purposely causes a breach of peace, public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creates a risk thereof, by making loud or unreasonable noises in a public place or in a private place that can be heard in a public or private place which would disturb the average person.

  • The examples above are just a few that apply to this law. If you fail to stop your behavior after a request from any person to do so, you may be charged with a misdemeanor. In all other circumstances, Disorderly Conduct will be charged as aviolation with fines ranging from $100 to a maximum of $1000. A more serious misdemeanor level offense can be a fine of up to $2000, up to 12 months in jail, and up to 2 years probation. 

Alcohol Off Campus

  •  UNH has strict policies on underage drinking in the dorms. When choosing  to attend parties in off-campus housing,  many students are unaware that apartments and the Town of Durham have rules and consequences.  

  • It is a criminal offense to host an underage drinking party in the state of NH. The host can be held accountable if they allow underage drinking to occur, even if the host didn’t supply the alcohol. Fines up to $2,000 and/or up to 12 months in jail are applicable.


  • Social media often quickly causes small gatherings to spiral out of control.

  • Loud, unreasonable noise and crowds cause complaints from neighboring residents, and police are notified. During their response, it is not uncommon for arrests for unlawful possession alcohol or unlawful internal possession to occur.

Community  Nuisance Ordinances

Students and older residents are neighbors
  • Loud noise on weekend nights is a common complaint from families and older residents in neighborhoods boarding the UNH campus.  Chapter 85 of the Durham Town Code details noise rules.

  •  " it shall be unlawful for any person to make, continue or cause to be made or continued any excessive, unnecessarily loud noise or any noise which either annoys, disturbs, injures or is likely to endanger the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of others within the town limits." 

  • Specific prohibitions  Between 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.,  engaging in conduct that creates loud and unreasonable noises including, but not limited to the operation, playing, or using of any audio equipment, sound amplifier or other device which reproduces or amplifies sound is prohibited.

  • The first violation of the Noise Code is a $100 fine.  Fines double with each subsequent offense, with the maximum fine being $1000.

  • Sustainability and conservation are major goals of UNH and Durham.  Cans, bottles, and debris left in yards and public areas after parties are a problem. 

  • Chapter 118.11 of the Durham Town Code addresses trash.

  • "No owner or person having control of a property shall place, leave, or cause to be placed or left, in or near a highway, street, alley, public place, or wharf or on private property any substance liable to become putrid or offensive, or injurious to the public health, or deposit garbage, refuse, or waste in containers or on premises not designed for recyclable or non-recyclable waste disposal."

  • If Durham code enforcement notices a violation,  a notice of violation is issued, and the area must be cleaned within 24 hours.  

  • If re-inspection indicates a continued violation, It results in $150 fine for the first offense.  The fine increases to $300 dollars for the 2nd offense, and reaches a maximum of $1000 for the third offense.

Code Enforcement photo of a trash violation.

Music On Main

Students and The Surrounding Neighborhoods

  • College students' schedules differ from families and older residents.  Remember, they are your neighbors.

  • Oyster River Middle School and High School are located next to the UNH campus.  Daytime parties put Oyster River students, parents, and UNH students together in the worst circumstances.  Keep in mind that kids are in the area.

  • Noise and trash are a source of conflict between students and older residents. Please pick up the trash and follow local rules.

  • This list of rules is not meant to scare you. It might surprise you to know that many UNH alumni choose to remain in Durham.  We need talented young people to call Durham their home. Start now by taking pride in your community.