Alcohol-related citations haven’t risen over Halloween, homecoming weekends

Although homecoming and Halloween have fallen on the same weekend the past two years, local police departments said they have not had an increase in alcohol-related citations given.

UW-Whitewater Police Chief Matt Kiederlen said the number of on-campus violations during homecoming and Halloween weekend isn’t higher than other weekends.

“Homecoming and Halloween weekend is definitely busier than other weekends,” Kiederlen said. “Halloween day isn’t too busy because a lot of students choose to go home or to celebrate in Madison. Homecoming celebrations are not crazy; they are busy, but that’s just due to an increase of people out.”

City of Whitewater Police Chief Lisa Otterbacher also said that although there is increased activity during the shared homecoming and Halloween weekend, she hasn’t seen any increase in drinking tickets given compared to previous years.

“Although homecoming and Halloween have fallen on the same weekend recently, the department hasn’t seen too much of an increase in problems,” Otterbacher said.

Kiederlen said the first time homecoming and Halloween fell on the same weekend, sergeants and officers in the department expressed concern, but the combination has not created a problem.

Otterbacher and Kiederlen said the departments increase enforcement on homecoming and Halloween weekend.

“To counteract the increase of activity during times of events such as the Fourth of July or St. Patrick’s Day, the City of Whitewater Police Department doesn’t allow officers to take vacation time, insuring we have maximum staff to handle dispatches,” Otterbacher said.

Kiederlen said one area where more enforcement is used is at the homecoming football game. The UW-Whitewater Police Department plans and trains for the worst, although nothing major has happened, Kiederlen said.

“During the homecoming game, we usually staff one or two more officers. Most of the problems we have encountered have been medical issues, not criminal issues,” Kiederlen said.

Kiederlen said in most cases offenders are just cited, not detained. Some of the reasons university police will detain an individual is if the department has had previous contact with the offender or if the offender performs a criminal act, damages property or is in a physical altercation, among others.

Kiederlen said both departments work well together and increase foot and bicycle patrol.

“The departments are constantly working together,” Kiederlen said. “There is no special collaboration on homecoming and Halloween weekend, because both departments always work together well.”

Otterbacher said homecoming and Halloween weekend can still be fun for students without going over-the-top with alcohol consumption.

“Homecoming festivities are a great way for the UW-Whitewater community, past and present, to interact and celebrate,” Otterbacher said. “Binge drinking and drinking underage does not enhance the celebrations or enjoyment.”

Kiederlen said students who do go out need to be responsible.

“Like as with any night of partying and drinking, make sure someone in the group is sober and competent enough to take care of anyone who gets too intoxicated,” Kiederlen said.  “It only takes one time of being out of control for something bad to happen.”