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Police pleased by fan behavior at night game

By Jennifer Lee, Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 11, 2011

In addition to beating Notre Dame and setting an NCAA record of 114,804 fans in attendance at the Big House, the University’s much-anticipated night game on Saturday did not see an upswing in alcohol-related incidents from a normal game.

By the Numbers

Incidents at the Sept. 10 Michigan vs. Notre Dame football game

14 Arrests

7 Citations

20 Removed from Big House

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According to Diane Brown, spokeswoman for the University’s Department of Public Safety, there were 14 arrests, seven citations and an additional 20 people ejected from the stadium during Saturday night’s game — numbers comparable to a typical afternoon football game.

Of the 98 people treated by emergency medical personnel during the game against Notre Dame, 14 were taken to hospitals and one was reported to be in critical condition suffering from cardiac arrest. Despite these incidents, Brown said there were no major health concerns.

“It was a successful event in that we didn’t have any major incidents or major health emergencies,” Brown said.

The largest number of people ages 18 to 24 treated at the University Hospital for alcohol consumption from May 1, 2010 to April 30, 2011 was 35 patients on Oct. 9, 2010 at the Michigan vs. Michigan State football game, according to University Hospital Emergency Department data obtained from a June 17 Freedom of Information Act request.

DPS Chief Greg O’Dell noted the success of the Under the Lights game in comparison to other colleges around the country that have seen high rates of alcohol-related incidents during night games.

“We were very pleased overall with the behavior of the fans (in the Big House), and we think, for a night game, we had seen some other examples throughout the country where they’ve had some serious problems with night games,” O’Dell said. “We didn’t have that.”

Brown pointed out that there was an increased police presence during the game for a variety of reasons.

“We did have a large police contingent, and that was based on the expectation and reality that this was going to be a record-size crowd and that it was held on the weekend of the tenth anniversary of the very tragic events of 9/11,” Brown said. “So it was the prudent thing to do to increase our police presence and provide a comprehensive safety and security plan.”

Two Ypsilanti police officers, who are also members of the Washtenaw Metro Swat Team, were called into Ann Arbor for the first time for a football game to provide additional support.

“We were there basically as a precautionary measure,” said Sgt. Thomas Eberts, one of the officers on patrol Saturday night. “We were paired off with Ann Arbor officers, and we were there to answer calls for services outside of the stadium.”

Eberts said the Ypsilanti officers did not issue any Minor in Possession citations on Saturday night, and they were also pleased with the general behavior of the fans.

“There was a possibility of more problems than usual, but we were all pleasantly surprised,” Eberts said. “There were no major issues that went on.”

O’Dell gave credit to the fans that attended Saturday night’s game and praised them for their conduct. He also lauded the work of the Office of Student Affairs and its launch of the Under the Lights Ambassador Program — an organization of volunteers who aided fans and served as increased sets of eyes and ears paying attention to safety throughout the game. Additionally, O’Dell complimented the non-alcoholic events that were scheduled prior to the game on Saturday.

“We had great fans and students and others who were just overall very well behaved,” O’Dell said.

Brown said the good sportsmanship between Michigan and Notre Dame influenced Saturday’s outcome and prevented major safety concerns among the fans.

“I think that the two schools are very respectful of one another and that, I think, has a contributing factor to it as well,” Brown said.