By Ben Kleppinger
The ingredients to a college football game celebration are no secret. You take a bunch of students, a big win and add a lot of beer to get the perfect recipe for post-game hoopla. But football celebrations occasionally leave a bitter aftertaste otherwise known as arrests.
Big-game arrest spikes seem to be commonplace at the University of Kentucky (police arrested 22 people after UK beat Louisiana State University,) but what about Eastern?
“The likelihood of problems increases with more people,” said Eastern Police Chief Mark Welker. “But more people doesn’t automatically equate to more arrests. You just never know from game to game what the dynamics are going to be.”
Welker said there used to be a spike in attendance for home games against Western, and homecoming also increases attendance. But he said attendance doesn’t correlate directly with crime.
As an example, Welker said he wouldn’t be any more surprised to see two arrests during a game with 16,000 in attendance than he would to see six arrests with 12,000 in attendance.
So how did a big weekend for Eastern (this past homecoming weekend) compare crime-wise to the couch-burning victory night at UK?
Welker said this past weekend there were four arrests for intoxication during homecoming, with three of the four arrests occurring in the tailgating lots.
Police reports confirm three arrests for public intoxication in the Alumni Coliseum parking lot and one arrest outside Roy Kidd stadium between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Police arrested one student after he attempted to “run.and go through the plastic windows in the homecoming tent,” according to a police report.
Another student was arrested after “attempting” to punch another person, according to another report.
Students tailgating during homecoming didn’t hesitate to admit why they were there. Brennon Jonson, a sophomore pre-law major, said he was there “for the beer.”
“I’m tailgating to get drunk because I just turned 21,” said Jennifer Seep of Lacrosse, Wis., who said she was visiting her boyfriend at Eastern.
Amanda Whitman, a freshman psychology major, said she came “to have fun with (her) friends.” One of her friends, Kayla Smith from Hazard, said “to get drunk with your friends is what she means.”
Welker said tailgating doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone. “Tailgating in and of itself is just that,” he said. “No one said you have to drink.”
He said there are plenty of people who tailgate just to cook out and socialize. Only a small portion of the crowd is there solely to drink, he said.
Welker said Eastern police are not looking to make lots of arrests at big events. Instead, the main focus is on traffic direction and crowd flow and control.
But Eastern generally uses all its sworn officers for big events. For football games, there are generally four officers on bikes and four on foot in the Alumni Coliseum parking lot alone, he said.
Besides sworn officers, Eastern uses traffic control people and cadets. Eastern receives assistance from Richmond police only during the All-A basketball tournament, Welker said.