IU-Ohio State game draws students and excise police


Saturday night's game between Indiana University and Ohio State drew tens of thousands of fans to Bloomington. It also drew 150 officers, including excise police.

The stepped-up police presence is part of continuing efforts to crack down on underage and binge drinking, especially during the pre-game tailgate parties.

Saturday afternoon, the party ended early for Sigma Nu fraternity. Members had to dump 30 cases of beer can by can after excise police cited four pledges for underage drinking and two members for furnishing alcohol.

A member who didn't want to be identified said police had it wrong.

'I totally agree if you're underage and getting a drinking ticket, you deserve it. You know, you did it to yourself," he said. "But (the pledges) weren't even drinking. (The excise police) were just abusing it. What is like 15 cops here? I mean, come on."

He and other students tailgating may not like it, but thanks to a federal grant, there are more excise police patrolling tailgate parties than ever before, not just at IU, but at Indiana State, Butler, Purdue, Notre Dame and Ball State.

The grant funds the ICE Project, which stands for Intensified College Enforcement. Sgt. Bill Turner with Indiana Excise Police said its goal was to improve public safety and change behavior.

He said when patrolling, "We're looking for a variety of things, all criminal violations, but our primary focus is going to be underage consumption of alcohol as well as those individuals that are so intoxicated they're either a danger to themselves or harassing or disturbing the peace of the other individuals here, fighting or things like that."

While walking through the student tailgate area, he and a colleague noticed one student weaving and stumbling. They gave him a field sobriety test and he registered a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.21, nearly three times the legal limit. The student, 21, was arrested for public intoxication.

While students Eyewitness News talked to said they were aware of the beefed up patrols, they didn't consider them a huge deterrent to underage drinking.

"I don't think so, I really don't. They're going to figure out some way, some way to get away with it," Alana Hogdon said.

Kaitlyn Williams said, "If you're willing to underage drink and risk it, that's your choice. But every kid must know there are consequences."

IU Police Chief Keith Cash said he believes having more officers has helped. He said so have new rules that resulted from the collaboration of the university and various student groups.

Those rules include designating a student tailgate area, banning kegs and large handled bottles of liquor, limiting time in the tailgate area to four hours before the start of the game and closing it off at kick-off.

Cash said, "We've not had to clear the lot out in two years. They go in (to the stadium) at kick-off and we've had a lot lower blood alcohol levels and fewer arrests so it's been great."

Saturday police issued 34 tickets, most for underage drinking. Turner said at the last IU game they issued roughly 70 tickets.