Daily staff reporters filled the passenger seats of Ann Arbor Police Department and University of Michigan Police Department cars throughout the day Tuesday to get a taste of officers’ experiences on one of the most notoriously rowdy holidays of the the year — St. Patrick’s Day.
Each reporter was assigned to an officer with whom they would spend the next few hours.
Zero Minor in Possession tickets were issued on St. Patrick’s Day this year.
St. Patrick’s day shifts began early. With bars such as the Blue Leprechaun, Ashley’s and Conor O’Neills opening as early as 7 a.m., AAPD Lt. Renee Bush met fellow officers at 6 a.m. by the Cube to divide and conquer over bagels.
For the alcohol prevention team, St. Patrick’s Day began when the Ann Arbor police, along with volunteers from the University programs Beyond the Diag and Expect Respect, met to hand out cream cheese and bagels along with fliers that provided tips on how to “Stay in the Blue.”
The group divided the bagels, split up and headed to their respective locations, focusing on popular bars. At 7 a.m. people were already lined up to take part in this day of drinking and merriment; there was a line of about 20 people in front of the Blue Leprechaun, and an estimated 60 in front of both Ashley’s and Conor O’Neills.
While the intent of giving out breakfast to the public was to help keep people who planned to drink in safe health, the gesture suggested the public and the police work together on major holidays to ensure safety for all celebrating.
After handing out the bagels, groups reconvened in the Michigan Union to discuss how everything went and ways to improve next year.
Bryan Baker, the University’s Division of Public Safety and Security’s liaison to the Office of Student Life, said he was happy with the way their initiative turned out.
“I thought the bagels went really well this morning,” Baker said. “The students and the audience that we were trying to reach were very receptive to the messaging of us having them think before they drink and get some food in their bellies before they go out and have any type of alcohol.”
Students were the targeted audience of the campaign, but Lt. Bush handed the bagels with attached safety fliers out to anyone who wanted them.
“It’s an important message no matter how old you are,” Bush said. “We don’t want anyone going to the hospital or getting hurt — nothing is worth that.”
In addition to this event, last Saturday, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center held a bystander intervention training session, hosted by Beyond the Diag at the Luther Buchele Cooperative House. The aim of these programs was to help inform students on how to react to potential dangerous situations and stay safe during the holiday and the weekend following.
Baker said the outreach done this year, such as the free bagels, will continue next year. He reported the number of students drinking in the dorms the Saturday prior to St. Patrick’s Day was down by 50 percent from last year, but noted that Dance Marathon being held Saturday through Sunday was a contributing factor.
“I think that we will continue on with these types of educational efforts and really getting out there and talking to the community.” Baker said.
After the discussion was over, Bush went back to her duties as an officer and patrolled the streets, making sure to pass all of the popular bars and observe the crowd size in and out of the bars.
By 9 a.m., the lines were gone and the bars were full. HopCat and Scorekeepers did not open until later on in the day, but Bush said that in previous years she remembers lines down the block in front of Scorekeepers, and that the amount of people out on St. Patrick’s day is really dependent on the weather and day the holiday falls on.
1:45 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
During the day, campus was quiet and most students attended class. AAPD Officer Jaime Crawford was assigned to traffic patrol as usual. She left the department around 1:45 p.m. and began her patrol.
Not following a specific route, Crawford spent her traffic patrols cruising around town. Sometimes, she parked and used her speed laser to catch speeding cars.
While most of the time on traffic patrol is spent driving around and looking for disobedience to traffic laws, Crawford was constantly on the lookout for abnormal behavior.
On holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, officers like Crawford look for students who are displaying disorderly conduct.
“We’re looking for people that can’t handle themselves, are stumbling and putting their own safety at risk,” Crawford said.
The difference between issuing an Minor in Possession and delivering a warning is a gray area for many officers, Crawford said, noting that student interaction with the officer plays a big role.
“Compliance and respectfulness can go a long way. The way you respond can determine if you get a ticket or not,” Crawford said.
Crawford said she specifically looks for students who are posing danger to themselves. Though if the police see a house party, they will not always choose to intervene.
“We’ll address parties if we get a complaint,” Crawford said. “We will also proactively make contact with a party if it’s spilling out onto the street, blocking pedestrian or foot traffic, if people are throwing glass or displaying destructive behavior, or if there are fights.”
Back at the station, there are holding cells for civilians that have been arrested and may be taken to jail. Bush said though it is not common, belligerent students have been brought to these cells in the past.
“Generally we write tickets, unless they’re really assaultive, in which case we bring them back here,” Bush said.
St. Patrick’s Day has tended to be a busier holiday when it comes to tickets given out. The holiday is infamous for having a large amount of house parties and underage drinking. Bush said she believes this is due to the arrival of warmer weather.
“Well, it is a holiday, and we do have people that want to celebrate that holiday,” Bush said. “Christmas, students are gone, and same with Thanksgiving. This is a sign of spring, and people have cabin fever; they want to get out of their apartments and dorms and have fun.”
3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Officer Dennis DeGrand left the Ann Arbor Police Department for his midday patrol at approximately 3 p.m.
Just 25 minutes into his shift, Officer DeGrand was dispatched to the scene of an assault near the entrance of the Main Street Party Store. Two witnesses described the altercation: an intoxicated white male directed racial slurs at a man before punching him twice.
Both parties involved left the scene before Officer DeGrand arrived. The witnesses noted the assailant may have proceeded to enter the Heidelberg Restaurant down the street. The establishment’s bouncers said that he was denied at the door.
Approximately one hour later, the officer received a call about a male lying semi-conscious on the couch inside Bubble Island. Upon arrival, paramedics were already on the scene, transporting a student on a stretcher into the ambulance.
Several of his friends on the street noticed, and tried to plead with the officer and paramedics that he was fine, and asked they be allowed to take him home. They were rebuffed by the officer.
“He’s incapacitated, passed out in a business, unable to take care of himself. So we need to take him into protective custody,” DeGrand said.
MIPs are very common among students, while DUIs and other forms of alcohol arrests are less common among students.
“It’s not usually college students drinking and driving because they either walk or catch a cab to the bars,” DeGrand said. “It’s usually out-of-towners, who come into town to drink at the bars and then drive afterwards. If you’re in the drunk tank, it’s usually because you’ve been fighting or disorderly conduct. If you’re just drunk and haven’t done anything wrong you’ll go to the hospital.”
7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
By the evening, things seemed to be settled down.
Tony Ricco of the University Police saw no St. Patrick’s Day-related mischief during his shift.
A member of UMPD for 12.5 years, Ricco described patrolling the streets as 90 percent quiet and 10 percent excitement.
Ricco noted that there is increased enforcement for drunk driving on St. Patrick’s Day in Ann Arbor, though he issued no arrests during this time frame.
Though he did spot a noticeably drunk man stumbling by the Power Center, he did not confront him because the man was not causing harm to others and appeared over the legal drinking age.
As a UMPD officer, Ricco spent much of his night in University buildings; he helped turn off a fire alarm in Schembechler Hall, patrolled the mostly empty hallways of Angel and Mason Halls for non-students, faculty or staff members and also circled Michigan Stadium and Crisler Arena.
His unique role as a University officer means that only University buildings and the streets adjacent to those buildings are within his jurisdiction, excluding Ann Arbor city bars, shops and even fraternity houses from his daily responsibilities.
At the same time, Officer Anthony Petterle was on duty starting at 7:00 p.m. for the AAPD. Petterle, with the force for about three years now, said AAPD and UMPD work well together, helping each other when necessary and thus better serving the community.
Petterle worked the second-latest shift of the day, the last being the “party patrol,” which is usually reserved for weekends and game day evenings.
Much like for Ricco, Petterle didn’t have to attend to St. Paddy’s shenanigans between 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Petterle responded to a call about a domestic issue, issued a ticket for an expired license plate and helped get a car towed that was blocking a driveway.
Along Main Street and Hill Street, green-clad students moved peacefully to the bars or back home. Petterle said he was basically looking to “keep the peace.”
“A lot of people think we’re out here just trying to slam every single person we come into for an MIP or whatever, but most of the time we’re actually out here just making sure everyone’s having fun but being safe,” he said.
He compared St. Patrick’s Day to a typical game day in Ann Arbor, though he noted that people likely drink more on the holiday than before a game.
“On a game day there’s obviously something else going on, there’s the football game going on, but St. Patrick’s Day is basically just drinking,” he said.
While alcohol poisoning and other self-harm is a priority on a day like this, he also needs to watch for property damage, fighting and other destructive behavior.
Petterle said the hope is that college students can keep the party reasonable and keep each other safe.
“I don’t think there’s really anything you can tell some college kids to really keep it under control. It’s just a thing that comes with maturity,” he said. “You just hope that they can be responsible, that they have other responsible people around them. It’s usually always good to have at least someone sober with you that can evaluate the situation from a better perspective.”
Daily News Editor Will Greenberg and Daily Staff Reporters Andrew Almani, Isobel Futter, Emma Kinery and Lara Moehlman contributed reporting.