Police brace for homecoming disturbances

The University police force has all officers on call and urges bars to serve responsibly.

Britt Johnsen

While police said they do not expect significant trouble over homecoming weekend, they are still taking precautions in the wake of this fall’s riot at Minnesota State University-Mankato.

In addition to placing all available officers on duty or on call, police have told area businesses to take precautions and warned bars and restaurants against over-serving patrons.

Greg Hestness, University assistant vice president for public safety, said enforcement will be similar to that for the Gophers football team’s game against the University of Michigan three weeks ago.

All 43 University police officers are not allowed to take the day off today or Saturday in case of misconduct, Hestness said.

Nicole Nelson, crime prevention specialist for the 2nd Precinct of the Minneapolis police, said its 34 officers are also not allowed to take days off.

The University has worked hard with the Minneapolis police to increase enforcement, Nelson said. If riots occur, the police will be prepared, she said.

Officers from the Minnesota State Patrol, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department and St. Paul Police Department will be on regular duty and also available to respond if necessary, Minneapolis police Lt. Jeff Rugel said.

Rugel said he doubts a riot will occur, but big parties are likely. He said police normally prepare for busy weekends like this.

“There’s always a possibility,” Rugel said. “We’re ready for whatever happens.”

Because of what the campus has seen in the past, increased enforcement will continue even if the campus sees little or no riotous activity, Hestness said.

“One victory does not mean the war is won,” he said.

Nelson said she has warned nearby businesses and neighborhood associations about a possible riot through flyers, e-mail messages, phone calls and newspaper advertisements.

Important preparations businesses should take include arranging for extra garbage to be taken away and ensuring all streets and alleys are clear, Nelson said. Police have asked businesses with video surveillance to make it available if it is needed.

Nelson said it is important that bars and restaurants watch whom they serve alcohol to and make sure no one is served too much.

“Alcohol plays a big part in unruly behavior that takes place,” Nelson said.

However, some businesses are not worried about this weekend and anticipate only more business because of both Halloween and homecoming.

“We don’t expect any trouble at all,” said Ryan Cole, a manager at Sally’s Saloon and Eatery.

Some students also do not expect unusual disturbances.

“I think it’s a bunch of hype like the Michigan game,” chemical engineer junior David Yust said.