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Excise arrests skyrocket on electric gameday

Megan Doyle | Wednesday, September 26, 2012

As the Indiana State Excise Police continue their Intensified College Enforcement (ICE) initiative in South Bend, their officers made more than 14 times as many arrests during the Michigan game weekend than the first home football weekend against Purdue.

Excise officers arrested 72 individuals on 99 charges Friday and Saturday, according to a press release issued by public information officer Corporal Travis Thickstun this week. The officers arrested five people on nine charges during the home football game against Purdue on Sept. 8.

On Friday, excise officers arrested 31 people on 46 charges, the release stated. Those arrests included 18 adults who were furnishing alcohol to a minor. During tailgating around campus Saturday, officers arrested 41 people on 53 charges.

Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) also reported seven arrests on various charges in the Stadium on Saturday.

The majority of the individuals charged by the Excise Police were minors for illegal consumption or possession of alcohol, the release stated. Eight of those 45 individuals charged were less than 18 years old.

“Excise officers also cited six minors for possession of false ID,” the release stated. “Two people were arrested for public intoxication, two for resisting law enforcement and one on a drug-related charge.”

Other citations included juvenile in possession of tobacco, disorderly conduct, false informing, false government ID and various traffic violations.

Student body president Brett Rocheleau said students should be honest and respectful if approached by a police officer.

“If anyone gets approached by a police officer, please be respectful and comply,” Rocheleau said. “I know there are some instances where people got tickets for refusing to cooperate or handing over a fake ID.”

Student government hosted a safety summit with local and state police officers at the beginning of the school year to inform students about how to interact with law enforcement. Officers from the Excise Police were present at that summit.

Rocheleau said he also sent emails to the student body to advise them on staying safe off campus and during game weekends.

“From the different stories we heard about the ICE program that they had enacted [at Notre Dame] and seeing that [Indiana University] and [Purdue University] had also been visited by Excise Police, I anticipated them coming to campus, which is why we tried to sort of warn the student body by sending out the emails to every student if they’re underage to watch out for the Excise Police, to make sure they’re being responsible and safe … [and] informing students that if they are underage they should not be consuming alcohol,” he said.

The release from Thickstun cited several instances of students who were uncooperative when dealing with excise officers. Thickstun could not be reached for further comment on the weekend’s arrests.

“A male juvenile ran from officers as they were speaking with a group of people in the tailgate lots,” the release stated. “He was caught and found to have a [blood alcohol content] of .07 percent. He was cited and was released to his mother after she was cited for furnishing alcohol to a minor.

“Another male was arrested after giving a false Pennsylvania driver’s license and other false information to officers. He had a [blood alcohol content] of .16 percent and will face charges for illegal consumption, false informing and possession of false ID.”

Rocheleau said Excise officers do not always book individuals into jail when they make arrests. Rather, they issue drinking tickets and citations, though they can issue multiple charges at one time for different offenses.

“Excise uses the word ‘arrest’ in terms of a ticket,” Rocheleau said. “While there could have been students incarcerated … a lot of it depends on the circumstances and how the student has been interacting with police.”

Indiana State Excise Police, a division of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, added Notre Dame to their ICE initiative this year. The new program targets college campuses to reduce underage drinking, and Excise officers also have a presence at five other universities in the state, including Butler University, Indiana University and Purdue University.

Rocheleau said the Excise officers will continue to have a presence in the South Bend area, even during the upcoming bye weekend and away game weekends.

“They are focused on liquor stores as well as bars,” he said. “They want to make sure that no one underage is going into liquor stores and bars on non-football weekends.”

While excise police have upped the number of arrests in the area and reported evasive student behavior during tailgating, Rocheleau said he has heard of only positive interactions between students and South Bend Police Department and St. Joseph County Police Department officers. He encouraged any students with complaints about treatment from police to contact him directly.

Rocheleau meets with representatives from those local law enforcement agencies and Excise Police three times each year.

“Their message is basically if you’re under the age of 21, you should not be consuming alcohol, going into liquor stores or going into bars,” he said.