Bar raids increase when students celebrate holidays, sporting events, parent weekends

Students+wait+in+line+outside+Kams+during+Unofficial+on+March+4%2C+2016.

Austin Yattoni

Students wait in line outside Kam’s during Unofficial on March 4, 2016.

By Lilly Mashayek , Staff Writer

Since students can go to bars at the age of 19, campus police have consistently combatted underage drinking. But, some students feel there has been a stronger police presence at the bars than in previous years.

“To me it feels like they are really just trying to crack down on the weekends, almost to maybe prevent like other students from around the area, you know ISU, or Eastern, or Parkland that come,” said Andrew Hassiepen, a graduate student and alumnus.

Since there is only one campus bar in Urbana, The Canopy Club, most of the policing of bars falls under the jurisdiction of Champaign Police. The University Police do not have jurisdiction in campus bars.

“The majority of crime on campus is alcohol related,” said Sgt. Joe Ketchem with Champaign Police. “I think we wrote 59 (tickets) … on the first weekend, like on a Saturday.”

As part of their campus patrol duties, Champaign Police conduct bar checks throughout campus. Ketchem said about five officers at a time go to the bar and check for underage drinking, as well as providing alcohol to underage patrons, among other possible violations.

“Every semester we do about six of those, it just depends,” he said. “My philosophy is I try to do a little more in the fall, because that’s when the freshmen are usually there and you really need to make a … presence known.”

Champaign Police tend to do more bar checks in the fall semester, he said, because students are more likely to go to the bars to drink during football season.

“People don’t go to a basketball game and then they all show up at a bar and drink,” he said. “At a football game, they do.”

Patrick Wade, University Police spokesperson, said there has been no increase in the number of drinking tickets handed out recently.

“In the past few years, there’s actually been a decrease,” he said.

Lt. Joel Sander with Urbana Police said in an email that they “have not increased or refocused (their) attention” on The Canopy Club, the only bar in their jurisdiction.

Ketchem said it’s possible some students may feel like they see officers at the bars more often because certain bars on campus are checked more than others.

“Maybe some of the kids might see us in certain bars more because I have to allocate our resources to the problem,” he said.

Hassiepen said he noticed certain bars would have a police presence more often than others.

“I feel like Red Lion would always get hit on the weekends,” he said. “It sticks out to me that Red Lion was always kind of number one.”

The bars that are known to have more problems with underage drinking are where Champaign Police tend to focus their efforts, Ketchem said.

“Because if I go into a business like Legend’s, or Murphy’s, or Firehaus, very seldom are there any problems, any fights, any drugs … so we never have to worry about them,” he said. “So when I go into Red Lion, or go into Kam’s, or I go into Clybourne’s and I get 18-year-olds out of there, that’s where my problems are.”

Champaign Police, Ketchem said, have not increased their number of patrol officers at bars, either.

“We’ve not done anymore bar checks than what we’ve normally done in the past,” he said.

Hassiepen said he hasn’t noticed a change in the number of bar raids either. However, he feels that “our undergrad class … goes sort of hard on the weekends, so I feel like that’s kind of their main target,” Hassiepen said.

The amount of resources that are available to be allocated toward policing underage drinking depends largely on the department’s budget, Ketchem said.

In the past, the department had an underage drinking grant which allowed them to more actively  police the problem.

“But over the last few years it’s kind of evened out to where we’re just normal,” Ketchem said.

Making sure that students, especially those who come to the University for the first time, are aware of the consequences that can result from underage drinking is important, he said.

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