ASU Police see improvement in student behavior at football games

The number of police officers at the ASU vs. Oregon game reached 90, with hired security doubling that amount, leaving little room for crime within the stadium. (Photo by Vince Dwyer)

The ASU Police Department is noticing a decrease in the number of arrests and citations at football games this season.

ASU Police Assistant Chief Jim Hardina said there were seven documented citations in the first game of the season against NAU.

Although 72,000 people attended Thursday’s football game against the University of Oregon, there were no more than three medical calls for people who were intoxicated and only one of these calls was for someone in the student section, Hardina said.

“Most games we don’t need to make any arrests,” he said. “(Citations and arrests) have been uncommon for the last two years. Prior to that, we had more of a problem.”

Hardina said football games are becoming more family-oriented.

“(The) athletics (department) changed the student experience for football,” he said.

The most common crimes are not drinking or fighting, but rather people throwing food and trash off the upper levels onto guests in the lower levels, Hardina said.

Students who noticed the increasing attendance of families at football games said the presence of parents and children is one reason people aren’t causing as much trouble.

Communications sophomore Andrea Collica, who sits in the student section during games, said the constant stream of videos of kids that are played during the game serves as a reminder that there are families present and gives students incentive to be respectful.

“The families and younger children create a good atmosphere for students and put us in line,” Collica said.

ASU introduced a new ticket system this year that allows students to purchase their tickets a few days before the game instead of waiting in a first-come, first-serve line.

“Getting our wristbands earlier that day is better for the students because they aren’t as antsy,” Collica said. “It gives the students more time and freedom and we aren’t pushing or shoving to get the best seats.”

Despite these observations, some students said there’s still a common enthusiasm among game attendees that sometimes leads to trouble.

Tourism development and management junior Elizabeth Roman said the heat and tailgates before games play a huge role in students’ crazy conduct.

“I’ve seen more school spirit and alumni presence, but not much improvement in student behavior,” Roman said

In addition to ASU Police, officers from Pima County, Maricopa County Community Colleges and highway patrol work at the games.

Tempe Police primarily control traffic at the games, but the bomb squad and watchdogs remain near the stadium, Hardina said.

Between all the departments, there were approximately 90 officers at Thursday’s game and almost twice as much security, Hardina said.

The number of officers at each game depends on anticipated crowd attendance.

The UA game always requires more police officers because it is considered high profile, Hardina said.

Officers are continuing to increase their responsibilities during tailgate hours and game time by providing more police and biker squads in the parking lots, Hardina said.

Students are getting in less trouble because they aren’t causing problems and drawing attention to themselves, he said.

“(The police) can’t watch everybody all the time,” Hardina said. “The people who wind up getting in trouble are the ones that cause problems and draw attention.”

 

Reach the reporter at mkthomp5@asu.edu.