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Police continue tailgating crackdown

BY NORA HEATON | SEPTEMBER 13, 2010 7:20 AM

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At the second game under the umbrella of the University of Iowa's "Think Before You Drink" initiative, police continued to buckle down on tailgaters.

"It's definitely a discussion topic among tailgaters," said Roger Zearley, 46, of Cedar Rapids, who has tailgated at the UI since 1995, noting that he has not noticed increased police presence.

But Ryan From, 30, who has been around Hawkeye tailgating since he was 5, said he has noticed amped-up enforcement.

"I think it doesn't affect 98 percent of the people who tailgate, and that 2 percent are the problem people," From said. "I'm all for public safety so I think it is fair, but … realistically, take care of the problem 2 percent and don't make everybody suffer."

The UI police issued 139 citations to 130 people, up from 45 charges at the last Cy-Hawk game played in Iowa City, in 2008. Approximately 58 percent, or 81 charges, this year were open alcohol containers in public. On Sept. 13, 2008, UI and Iowa City police issued a combined six open-container charges.

Authorities sent 16 people to the Johnson County Jail, up from seven arrests at the Eastern Illinois game last week.

The UI isn't the only school cracking down on tailgating — the University of Georgia revamped its regulations this year as well. After fans trashed the university's historic North Campus with litter and defecated on the grounds, officials restricted tailgating there to just four hours before the game.

"It was awful," said George Stafford, the school's associate vice president for auxiliary and administrative services, remembering the trash. "We just wanted people to use a little sense and not become quite so rowdy."

Despite some initial backlash from fans, Stafford said, others came to officials and expressed approval of the plan after the first home game on Sept. 4.

Similarly, in 2002, Notre Dame University banned tailgating during the game and closed it three hours after the game's end.

"We still see as many people gathering and enjoying the game, but we don't see nearly as many of the negative aspects," said Phillip Johnson, the director of Notre Dame's security police. "That's all been a pretty good change for us."

And Indiana University hired a private security company for backup and started a parking-space registry to hold fans accountable for wrongdoing, said Indiana University police interim Chief Keith Cash.

Fans have been largely receptive to the changes, he said.

But some UI fans haven't been as appreciative of efforts around Kinnick.

Jason Muselman, 28, who attended the UI for three years, said he has noticed the increased police presence this year.

"I understand there were some situations [last year] they needed to take care of," he said, standing in front of a table littered with blue cups, even though the new policy forbids drinking games. "But out of all the people who are drinking responsibly and socially …" he added before being interrupted.

"Ooh," friend Drew Mattille, 28, cut in as a ball plopped into a cup. "Gotta get the win."

Muselman paused to give Mattille a fist pound, never finishing his sentence — and returned to the game.


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