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Equestrian Police take to the streets to officially close down the Athens Halloween block party on Oct. 28. 2017. (FILE)

Police prepare for back-to-back Halloween and Homecoming weekends

Halloween weekend in Athens is infamous, but there could be diminished crowds this year due to weather and its proximity to Homecoming weekend.

Police presence increases during Homecoming and Halloween weekends because of the influx of non-residents who come to celebrate alongside Ohio University students and Athens residents. 

The City of Athens brings in volunteer officers from other cities and departments in the state, such as Lancaster and the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and end up with about 100 to 200 uniformed officers and 30 horses.

“Halloween is an all hands on deck thing so everyone is pretty much here,” OUPD Lt. Tim Ryan said. “We are here after they shut down Court Street… but it kind of depends on how the night is going.”

Athens City Service Safety Director Andy Stone said Halloween usually occurs on the last weekend of October, so it is possible that the two events have occurred consecutively since he was hired in 2003.

Stone said both weekends place an additional demand on the police and public works department, but the city doesn’t prepare any differently than other years.

Athens Police Department Chief Tom Pyle said the average officer works 12-hour shifts on Friday and Saturday night during Halloween weekend.

“There are long hours particularly on Halloween weekend,” he said. “If there is an incident that occurs, we are staffed for it and are ready to deal with that.”

There is usually a spike in crimes, including underage consumption, sexual assault, public intoxication, alcohol-related assaults and fights, on these weekends for OUPD and APD. Pyle said APD focuses on situations that deal with aggressive or disruptive behavior and do not seek out people who are drinking underage or simply look drunk.

“The most successful Halloween is the one where people simply keep their wits about them,” Pyle said.

Pyle said there are a variety of factors that can affect whether there is an increase in crimes. There are also no events, like a home OU or Ohio State University football game, so there could could be a larger crowd. Pyle said he usually expects a larger crowd if it’s warm and not raining.

However, people could not want to come to Athens two weekends in a row or want to skip on weekend to go to the other.

Last year, attendance decreased, and it was possibly due to the rain and cold weather. Pyle said the crowd was about 40 percent of its usual size.

According to the OU Scalia Lab, Athens should expect moderate to high chances of rain with a high of 51 degrees Saturday.

“With normal weather, you tend to have larger attendance and people tend to act out more,” Stone said. “Bad weather tends to dampen this. No pun intended.”

@ShillcockGeorge

gs261815@ohio.edu

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