The number of alcohol-related arrests made during football games did not increase after alcohol sales began at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium this season, according to Lt. Amber Calvert, who is in charge of special events security for The University of Texas at Austin Police Department.
UTPD officer William Pieper said the new alcohol sales policy does not present a new challenge to law enforcement during football games.
“Alcohol has always been a part of the football game,” Pieper said. “I say that because they have [sold] it in clubs, but there has also been a contingency of people who would smuggle it in against the rules. But the simple fact is that it was still there and we had people who were drinking.”
According to the Campus Watch, UTPD’s daily newslog, UTPD made ten charges for public intoxication and minor in possession of alcohol at UT’s home opener against Rice on Sept. 12 in or outside DKR, the first game alcoholic beverages were sold to fans. That broke last year’s record of six charges during the Iowa State game in October. UTPD hasn’t seen or doesn’t expect an increase in the total of alcohol related incidents.
Pieper said there were more issues during the Rice game because it was the first home game of the season.
“The first game of the season is usually a lot more festive,” Pieper said. “It was a night game, so people had been tailgating all day, and it was really hot. That’s really the trifecta.”
Although charges at the Rice game broke last year’s high, the overall number of alcohol-related arrests has remained consistent.
Captain Rick Rutledge of the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service said he cannot quantify data for alcohol related emergency calls during football games. Though ATCEMS responds to calls that may be related to alcohol intoxication, the department does not record the cause of the incident.
“[Alcohol related calls] get dispatched as sick or fall or fight or whatever,” Rutledge said. “There may be alcohol involved but we don’t track that.”
Games involving UT’s rivals — as with Texas A&M in the past — generate an increased number of incidents in the stands, Pieper said.
“During the rivalry games, like when we used to play against A&M, we would get a lot more disturbances,” Pieper said. “A lot of people would get into arguments, ‘My school is better than yours,’ and that would turn into a fight.”
Speech pathology junior Maddie Wright said she did not notice a change in the nature of the crowds since the alcohol sales policy went into effect.
“I think it is just as rowdy as it has always been because football games are where you are supposed to be rowdy,” Wright said.
Last year, UTPD arranged for 200 police officers to provide stadium security for each home game in the season, Calvert said. UTPD routinely asks officers from outside agencies to help meet that target number. The department has not raised that number for this season.
Because other sports venues on-campus have sold alcohol to spectators for years, Pieper said UTPD officers were prepared to provide security for the stadium after the policy went into effect.
“It’s not new to us, because they have been selling alcohol at the Frank Erwin Center [during basketball games] for years,” Pieper said. “Just now, they buy it legally [at DKR] and they consume it.”