Indiana Excise Police cracking down on campus drinking
For parents, this is the annual time of joy and fear. College students are heading back to campus to hit the books and - too often - the bars and booze.
This weekend, Ball State students got a surprise. Indiana Excise police welcomed them back with a crackdown on illegal and underage drinking. It's a special program targeting a handful of campuses, aimed at keeping kids safe.
ICE, Intensified College Enforcement, started more than a year ago. Administrators are seeing promising results. Others don't know yet how big of an effect it's having.
It's first day of classes, and some Ball State students are already in trouble. Move-in weekend, Excise Police hit the streets and nearby bars, ticketing or arresting 46 people for underage drinking and other alcohol-related charges.
"It's a college town so it's kind of expected," said senior Jodeci Gonzalez. "But I didn't expect to get that many people arrested."
Nor were the arrests expected so early in the school year.
Jacqui Schlabach, a freshman, was surprised.
"A lot of freshman are, 'oh, where's the party at?'" she said "They are trying to find it. I personally don't to that."
Ball State is one of half a dozen Indiana college campuses working with state excise police to quite literally put underage drinking on ICE.
The Intensified College Enforcement also targeted IU, Indiana State, Butler, Purdue and Notre Dame. Excise officials were unavailable to comment on the program.
However news releases say ICE resulted in roughly 2,000 citations and arrests last year. The Excise Police 2012 annual report credits ICE for reducing the numbers of student hospitalized for alcohol illnesses and drastic reductions in alcohol-related crashes.
Grant Isaccson, another Ball State freshman admitted, "it's definitely making us a little more scared, I'd say."
Not far off campus inside Scotty's Brewhouse, James Hickey managed a half smile, "When I was a kid we didn't know excise existed."
Now Hickey manages the restaurant bar. He say anyone looking younger than 50 is carded and waitresses still catch students with bad IDs.
Hickey says ICE is definitely doing good things, but definitely won't stop underage drinking.
"I think it is definitely going to make them drink more reasonably and hopefully keep them out of situations where they can hurt themselves or others," he explained.
ICE is run with federal grants. An Excise police spokesman texted that he did not know the amount of this year's funding or whether the program would to other college campuses.
Butler University students move in Saturday. Assistant Butler police chief Bill Webber says Excise police have already scheduled a visit but won't say when. Webber added, "I'll take any help I can get."