Officers explain arrests
Jenn Metz | Friday, October 3, 2008
This season, almost 100 people have been arrested on three Notre Dame home football Saturdays.
Most of the citations issued were for alcohol-related offenses and determining which individuals to cite or arrest, out of the many people consuming alcohol on campus, depends on the circumstances of the incident, police said.
Dave Chapman, assistant director of Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) said in an e-mail, “if the officer has probable cause to believe the person is intoxicated they may take action.”
He said NDSP officers observe the behaviors of people, both during the games and at tailgates, and if the behavior is suspicious, an officer “may speak with the person to gather more information.”
“Police only get involved if someone is thought to be in violation of the law, for example public intoxication, disorderly conduct, minor consuming alcohol, etc.,” Chapman said in the e-mail. “Generally, police interact with these people away from the crowds.”
Chapman said police will videotape interactions between officers and members of the public “from time-to-time.”
“Videotaping can help clear up questions about what happened in a particular situation,” he said. “For example, videotaping police action, through in-car police cameras, is a common practice and is commonly believed to improve police-citizen interaction.”
He said police did not videotape “solely for the investigation of rule violations of minor law.”
“We believe that videotaping in a public place is legal and may be used, if needed, as evidence,” Chapman said in the e-mail.
Police are trained, Chapman said, in how to determine whether or not an individual is intoxicated in their observation of behaviors and other criteria, like “slurred speech, the smell of intoxicating beverages.”
Alcohol consumption before and after games takes place primarily at tailgates; Chapman said “fans who are 21-years of age and older are welcome to enjoy alcohol in the parking lots.”
He called tailgating a “great game day tradition – a time for reunions of family and alumni” and said “the University is pleased to serve as the host for these gatherings.” At the same time, NDSP wants to “promote a family-friendly environment and ask people to drink responsibly, and not to infringe upon the rights of others,” Chapman said.
Tailgates in the parking lots are not permitted during football games, he said.
Whether officers issue citations, eject individuals from the Stadium or arrest individuals varies upon the circumstances of the incident or the behavior of the individual, Chapman said.
“Our interest is maintaining the safety of the person that the police are dealing with, as well as the safety of others if the person is released,” he said.
Chapman said if police respond to the behavior of minors who are not intoxicated, the are “generally cited and released.”
NDSP does not discuss the number of officers assigned to Game Day Operations for security reasons Chapman said. There is no quota system in place for officers or ushers in the Stadium to make to detain a set number of people, he said.
On some home football weekends, officers of the Indiana State Excise Police (IESP) are on campus, whose primary goal, according to Lieutenant Tim Cleveland is “to enforce the laws, rules and regulations of the alcohol and tobacco commission.”
The only role the Excise Police plays during football weekends is assisting NDSP with alcohol enforcement on campus “at their request,” he said.
Depending on the officers’ schedule, there may be eight or 10 officers on campus per game, Cleveland told the Observer.
The Excise Police holds complaints received as a main concern, Cleveland said, and do not target certain locations or bars.
“If we receive complaints on a certain location, that’s our priority,” he said. “We prioritize where we go, but our main priorities are to address situations that are a problem.”
Cleveland said the Excise Police do not target everyone at a tailgate, for example, but “just those who are drawing attention to themselves or are so intoxicated there is the potential they will do harm to themselves.”
Excise Police patrol both inside and outside the Stadium on game day, Cleveland said. They do not target students specifically, he said.
“From my experience, 99 percent of students we come in contact with are legal, pleasant and understanding and they are good people,” Cleveland said.
Considering the number of people on campus on game day, the Excise Police make “very few arrests in proportion,” he said. This year’s numbers are on par with the average from previous years, and Cleveland said he did not see any major increases or decreases in the frequency of arrests.
Arrests that are made are “coincidental,” he said. “There are only so many people you come in contact during the specific time.”
Cleveland said he would be happy to write zero tickets on a game day because it would “indicate that the job we’ve done, and that NDSP has done, to ensure it’s a safe family environment … has been effective.”
Katie Kohler contributed to this report.