Local law enforcement prepares for Homecoming

MUPD and CPD will coordinate their efforts.
MU Police Department officer Brian Frey and his partner search the area around Faurot Field for explosives before the football game against Furman on Sept. 19, 2009. MUPD will be increasing security for this year's Homecoming festivities. Maneater File Photo

The MU Police Department and the Columbia Police Department are joining together to provide added security for the anticipated crowd at Saturday’s Homecoming game.

MUPD Capt. Brian Weimer said MUPD has 35 officers at its disposal, and each officer works every football game.

“We assign officers based on needs and sizes of events throughout the day,” Weimer said. “We have to judge the size of the crowd and type of event, then staff accordingly.”

Sophomore Joe Lennartz said he sees game day security to be a big issue at MU.

“People are pretty dedicated to football here, and from what I’ve heard, the police are stretched pretty thin on game days.”

CPD spokeswoman Jill Wieneke said the police will have extra officers on hand starting Friday night to assist MUPD with security, and they have a specific schedule set up to ensure everything goes smoothly.

“MUPD asked us for assistance, and we’re happy to provide it,” Wieneke said. “We’ll have extra officers assigned to the ESPN area, the traffic and mounted units on horseback downtown.”

Wieneke said CPD officers will be helping with traffic at major intersections and helping out with the homecoming parade, including setting up and tearing down barricades.

Weimer said the police department has dealt with many important events in the past, including concerts and presidential visits. He said the filming of ESPN College GameDay is another big event the two police departments will have to coordinate.

“It’s just one more special event during the day we have to take care of,” Weimer said. “We cover all sorts of events, and it’s the same plan and procedure this weekend."

Wieneke said the presence of ESPN could be problematic, because the taping can create a 12- to 16-hour day for Homecoming participants.

“We just want to urge everyone consuming alcohol to pace themselves, because it’ll be a long day,” Wieneke said. “Plan ahead and have designated drivers ready.”

Wieneke said the crowd for this Saturday’s game will likely be the biggest yet this year.

“This is a huge game for MU,” she said. “They’re undefeated, it’s Homecoming, the weather’s been nicer, and it’s Oklahoma. We’re expecting a lot of people to come into town, especially with ESPN GameDay being here.”

Lennartz also said he expects the crowd to be especially large this weekend.

“The crowd will be bigger than usual, most definitely,” Lennartz said. “Especially for the birthplace of Homecoming, being one year shy of our 100th. It’ll attract a huge crowd.”

Sophomore Tavia Johnson said she thinks security will be a bigger issue this weekend, but that it's up to MUPD and other security to handle it.

Wieneke said CPD hopes Homecoming participants will be safe and responsible throughout the weekend.

“We’re hoping it won’t turn into a situation where we’re dealing with property damage, arrests or fights,” Wieneke said. “We’re expecting a big win out of the Tigers, and we hope that everyone will celebrate in a respectful way that doesn’t diminish the positive atmosphere of a win.”

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