FROM LEFT: Bethlehem Police officer Jon Buskirk on Pharaoh and officer Jason Holschwander on the Bethlehem PD mounted unit’s newest horse, Asa on the UC Front Lawn on Sept. 24. Lafayette week, LUPD increases its patrols. (Chris Barry/B&W Photo)

Police presence increased for Le-Laf week


While the football team is preparing to play the Lehigh-Lafayette game and the rest of the student body is celebrating the rivalry throughout the week, the Lehigh University Police Department prepares for the possible issues that may arise during the week’s festivities.

The 151st rivalry game will take place Saturday after the spirit week events, eco-flame, parties and tailgates.

Although the protocol for handling alcohol-related incidents does not change, the police force and other management departments increase the quantity of security and patrols to ensure the safety of the two university communities that come together.

Because of the amount of people who attend the Lehigh-Lafayette game and the social atmosphere of the rivalry, the likelihood of alcohol-related incidents will increase between students, alumni and fans of the schools.

When the rivalry game takes place at Lehigh, as it will this year, the police department increases their presence for the week leading up to the game for the safety of everyone partaking in the celebrations.

“We put extra officers out on bike, on foot and in cars,” said Lehigh Police Chief Edward Shupp. “We want people to have an enjoyable time, but we want it to be a safe time as well. That’s why we have an increase in patrols.”

Shupp said the police department considers this week in their budget to ensure they receive sufficient funds for the officers who put in extra time. In addition, an increased number of officers already spends their extra time educating the students with the grant received by the Liquor Control Board. The department’s hope is that this education will curb some of the potential crimes during the week and the rest of the school year.

Ensuring the safety of students during the rivalry week is a collaboration between the police, athletics, Dean of Students Office and other departments who work together to ensure spirit week events and the rivalry game run smoothly.

Lafayette is also involved when it comes to selling tickets to the game and helping Lehigh garner numbers for Lafayette student tailgates. Communication increases between the two schools, but Shupp said Lafayette’s public safety does not have a police presence at the game because it is not under their jurisdiction.

For Lehigh students, tailgates must be registered through the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs. There will be checkpoints for all those tailgating to check the amount of alcohol being brought to the fields and parking lots.

“(Tailgaters) are not allowed to bring additional cases of beer in,” said Allen Biddinger, assistant athletic director for facilities and events. “I think that number is at 14 or 15 cases right now, so if they try to bring 20 cases, it won’t be allowed. They can only bring in the maximum limit.”

The police have had to deal with anywhere between six and 10 arrests and several citations at the Lehigh-Lafayette games, according to Shupp.

The police do not look for anything more or less than they normally would to decide if someone is too intoxicated. The normal indicators, such as vandalism, public intoxication, urination or fighting all draw attention to the individual.

“There are also the city ordinances in place, such as the open container law, so if students are smart and alumni are smart that they don’t do some of that then they have less of a chance of getting themselves in trouble,” Shupp said.

Above all, the goal of the police and all those involved in the game is to create the safest environment possible. There will be more buses running to avoid drinking and driving, regulations on tailgates such as the limit on beer and an overall increase in police presence.

Students looking forward to the game and the excitement leading up to it have no plans to ruin the big day for themselves or their respective schools.

“I think students in general use any hyped-up college event as an excuse to drink, but I don’t think Laf-Lehigh in particular causes people to be aggressive,” Lafayette student Christine Carpenter, ’16, said. “If anything, the rivalry game is something people look forward to because it’s a fun time with your friends and a way to celebrate the semester being almost over, not something people would want to ruin by being violent.”

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