University police prepare for Labor Day weekend, 1st home football game

By Emily Waldron

The University police are ready for this weekend, for the students taking buses home to visit their families over the long weekend and for the people coming down for the Illini’s first home football game of the year.

“We’re conscious of that always,” said University police Captain Skip Frost. “Any long weekend or extended period where we know that students are going to go home, we put that in with everything else we’re doing for football games, volleyball games.”

Frost said that officers are prepared for this weekend and the many others that will come. He said police cannot, however, anticipate that most students will go home, considering the football game.

Police are actively upping the amount of foot and bike patrols on campus this weekend as well as this year. They will also be using the new sentinels they recently purchased.

“We’re going to be pretty thick in Campustown knowing full well that it’s the first football game of the year,” Frost said.

Dan Applebaum, junior in Business, said he has noticed the increased police presence.

“I’ve definitely noticed a step up in security during the weekends and even on weeknights,” he said.

Applebaum said he expects to see increased security, due to the nature of the weekend.

“A lot of people are going home, but the football game creates a whole other factor,” he said. “There probably will be increased security, especially with a lot of people coming from out of campus.”

Frost added that the focus of security this weekend will be in the housing areas.

“We’re going to have a lot of people coming in; they’ll come in a night early for the game,” Frost said.

This school year’s football schedule differs from past years’ as well: There will be eight home games instead of the usual six or seven.

“In my 23 plus years (working here), we’ve never had that many games,” Frost said.

Frost added that this home game increase might make for a different kind of year for the police.

“All five of the first games are home games,” Frost said. “We’re busy, as busy as I ever remember it. So you throw in the mix all the other things we’re focused on, and we have a lot on our plate.”

Frost said even with the uncertainties that lie ahead during future weekends, the officers will nevertheless be ready for whatever may happen.

“We’re going to do what we always do: be prepared for the worst and hope for the best,” Frost said.

University police chief Barbara O’Connor added that the police have made a concerted effort to improve safety on campus this year.

“I think the students will feel (that increased presence) over a period of time. I think they’ll feel more comfortable traveling about the campus,” she said.