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Kinnick fans do not pass go, do not collect $200

BY MITCHELL SCHMIDT | NOVEMBER 02, 2009 7:20 AM

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Beneath the roaring Hawkeye fans, near Gate B of Kinnick Stadium, is one room most fans have never heard of or want to enter: the holding cell.

The cell, used as many as 70 times a game, is the first stop for fans arrested during a football game for various transgressions.

The most common offenses involve alcohol. And typically, arrests occur right before the game — when drunken spectators and tailgaters arrive at the gates — and taper off after halftime, said David Visin, an associate director of the UI police.

In early October, before Iowa’s Homecoming game with Michigan packed the cells, Visin showed off the facility.

“Late games allow for a lot more drinking time and usually result in more arrests,” he said.

The room is windowless, but that doesn’t keep ejected fans from watching the game. A tiny television set hangs on the wall across from the cells, allowing fans to watch through the cage. There are two identical cells divided by a brick wall; one for men, one for women.

Things can get uncomfortable.

“Sometimes, we’ll have 17 guys in that cell and one girl in this one,” Visin said, pointing toward the two small cells.

The UI police anticipate increased arrests during home games, and they employs from 80 to 100 officers a game, Visin said.

“We really gear up for football games,” Visin said.

After being taken to the holding cell, detainees are searched, and have their information processed.

When the number of inmates gets large enough — which happens about three or four times per game — they are taken by van to the Johnson County Jail. The van, owned and maintained by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, can transport around 10 people a trip in its partitioned back seat.

Then, they are in Capt. Dave Wagner’s hands, and they will swap their black and gold gear for orange jumpsuits.

On the building’s second floor, Wagner, the jail administrator, pointed out the “booking room.” Behind several heavy locked doors, those arrested are searched and give police their information and fingerprints and have their mug shots taken.

Next is the “drunk tank.” It’s the holding cell fitted with sets of bunks, stainless steel sinks, and toilets. Inmates spend the night behind faded red bars.

When the room gets crowded, late arrivals have to crash on the floor.

Those arrested face a judge in the morning to hear the charges against them. In most cases, the Kinnick crowd is released afterwards, Wagner said.

Students arrested at Kinnick also face disciplinary action from the school, said Thomas Baker, associate dean of students.

Students face a two-strike policy. After the first, students must undergo probation and substance-abuse evaluation. Strike two leads to a suspension of at least one semester from campus, Baker said.

With a historic perfect record and another home game coming up, the Kinnick and county holding cells could get even more rowdy visitors.

“We are anticipating an overrun of people this weekend,” Wagner said on Oct. 30. “This has never happened before. It will add to the excitement downtown.”


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