Monday, November 3, 2008

Block Party Safety

Ryan Scarpino

Another Athens Halloween has come and gone. This year, the unseasonably warm November temperatures brought even more partygoers to the Court Street extravaganza.

And to ensure the safest possible Halloween for this year's large crowd, extra policemen on bicycles, on horseback and in patrol cars, joined firefighters, medical personnel and volunteer patrols were called in for the weekend festivities.

Even extra members of the Ohio Highway Patrol came to Athens to keep the roads clear of dangerous drivers.

Lt. Jeff Skinner said, “We have about 15 extra patrol cars in the area…we are very busy at this time…people are coming here to party…we want to focus on getting the impaired driver off the road, reducing crashes and keeping everybody as safe as we can.”

Though keeping the roads safe in and out of Athens is essential, the main goal for police officers is to make sure everyone is safe on Court Street and across the town. OUPD Officer, Dave Valentine, said on Friday, “Hopefully everything will go well and will have a good time and be safe.”

And for the most part, everything went well, but due to the large number of partygoers, the number of arrests increased from last year.

On Saturday evening, 53 people were arrested, 21 more than last year; Friday night, 24 people were arrested, 12 more than last year. The majority of these arrests came from drug and alcohol related offences. And out of the 53 arrests on Saturday, only 12 were OU students.

Other than arrests, Southeast Ohio Emergency Medical Services reported they made 44 runs by 2 a.m. on Saturday, which is seven more than the entire night in 2007. However, most were for alcohol-related issues, and no serious injuries were reported.

Overall, the Halloween weekend was pretty calm. Though the number of arrests increased this year, it was the second lowest total in the last four years.

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