Univ. police prepare for "Halloweekends," excessive drinking
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 19:04
University police plan to increase officers’ presence throughout the week to prepare for Halloween day and the weekend, when students might extend their celebration, according to police officials.
University Police Chief Patrick Ogden said the police were preparing for a rise in crime and accidents during both potential Halloween weekends, Oct. 28-29 and Nov. 3-4. He said factors such as excessive drinking and reckless behaviorare significant contributions to rises in crime during holidays.
“Halloween weekend usually brings an increase in alcohol consumption, and we found that there’s also a decrease in decision-making abilities as a result,” Ogden said. “That means accidents go up.”
According to the university police department’s crime analyst, Detective Michael Brannan, there were 249 documented calls for service Halloween weekend last year. Eleven of those calls resulted in arrests.
Anna Cooney, a manager at Kildare’s Irish Pub, said she expected festivities to last for several days, so employees prepared for the anticipated onslaught of customers for Halloween.
“Wednesdays have not been our busiest days, but this year it will probably reflect four or five major days,” Cooney said. “We’re having two different costume giveaways, which bring a lot of people in, and they go a little extra hard.”
According to Cooney, the bar has seven security employees on a typical night. However, on Halloween she said they will have 12 or 13 members of their staff maintaining security. She said security will keep an eye on the crowd from all different levels and will converge if any incidents occur.
Ogden said the university police planned to have many officers near residence halls to maintain public safety. He said the officers aim to keep students safe as well as prevent illegal activities.
“We’re trying to protect the students,” Ogden said. “A lot of times, our victims of serious crimes are students who have had too much to drink and wander away from their friends.”
Ogden said he advises students to wear costumes that do not interfere with their vision or hearing. He said Halloween costumes often decrease individuals’ awareness of danger and make them easier targets for crimes, such as robbery.
Students should also wear something reflective so drivers can see them, Ogden said. Most importantly, he said people should always be in groups of three or more.
Sophomore Sarah Hudson said she plans to go to costume parties for Halloween. She said she remains safe when going out at night by always staying with a group and using good judgment. She said she does not think extra security and law enforcement will prevent people from partying.
“If there are more cops out, parties are going to get shut down earlier, but I really don’t think that will deter kids from going out in the first place,” Hudson said. “They’ll just be coming back earlier.”
Sophomore Solomon Debessay said he thinks students will continue to go to parties despite the police presence. He said he believes it will only compel students to be more cautious about how obvious their partying will be.
“People will probably be more careful as far as making sure their houses aren’t crowded,” Debessay said. “They’ll be quieter. There will be parties, but they will be more hidden.”
Ogden said the police focused most of their efforts on the weekend before Halloween, and officers will patrol on Wednesday and the following weekend as well.
The focus of the police force during Halloween is keeping students safe, not “busting” them for underage drinking, he said.
“The normal grievances I have are that students are being loud and disorderly late at night, or they’re using people’s yards as bathrooms,” Ogden said. “Obviously the people who live in Newark don’t appreciate that.”
Junior Nicolette Grannum said people are more excited for Halloween than usual because of Hurricane Sandy. She said that despite warnings from the university, she thinks students are likely to stay on campus and go to parties.
“They’re going to risk it,” Grannum said. “It’s Halloween. It only comes once a year, and I think people will be really excited for it.”