UMPD, police reserves keep peace at athletics events

Last month at a college basketball game in Rhode Island, a playerâÄôs brother strolled onto the court and confronted referees over a foul call. While the University of Minnesota athletics department hasnâÄôt seen an incident like that anytime lately, itâÄôs using both security staff and police officers to prevent such a scenario. In addition to a contract with security firm Avalon Security , the athletics department pays $70 per hour to police officers who work at home athletics events. Eight officers work each home menâÄôs basketball game, with seven at womenâÄôs basketball games, athletics department spokesman Garry Bowman said. In addition to keeping fans in check, two officers are charged with guarding the two teams and the coaches, Bowman said. Last season, fansâÄô desires to get up close and personal with then first-year head coach Tubby Smith at home games forced the athletics department to place an officer behind the GophersâÄô bench at Williams Arena . Both University police officers and Minneapolis Police Department reservists work the games, University Police Chief Greg Hestness said. Because it only has one bomb dog, the University Police Department also sometimes uses a dog from Minneapolis police at events, Hestness said.

TCF Bank Stadium

Twice as many police officers will be needed at TCF Bank Stadium as were called for at the Metrodome , and the University athletics department is going to have to foot that bill. Hestness estimates that it will take about 90 officers to staff football games at the new stadium. âÄúThey havenâÄôt had a stadium on campus since 1980 , so weâÄôre trying to anticipate everything itâÄôs going to take,âÄù he said. If the estimate translates into reality and officers are paid the same wage, the athletics department will spend about $176,000 on police during the stadiumâÄôs inaugural season. The UniversityâÄôs police force is about 47 strong, which means the department will have to pay roughly 43 officers from other cities or University campuses, such as Morris , to help on game day. Requests for comment from the Minneapolis Police Department, which Hestness hopes becomes more involved at the new stadium, were not returned. The UMPD is currently recruiting other police departments, Hestness said. To help make the estimate, members of the department attended games last fall at Big Ten football venues, he said. While Ohio State University needs about 370 officers to help at the fourth-largest on-campus stadium in the country, other schools have numbers close to 90, he said. The need also likely means an increased expectation for University police officers to help work the game. Of the 40 to 45 officers that helped out at the Metrodome, about one-third were University police officers. Many of the extra officers will be helping with aspects of game day foreign to most Gophers fans, like tailgating and traffic problems, Hestness said. âÄúPeople tended to disperse from the Metrodome,âÄù he said. âÄúSo weâÄôll have to do more work with traffic when theyâÄôre parking on campus and leaving from here.âÄù