City and university officials on UK-UL game: #RespectTheRivalry

jmadden@herald-leader.comMarch 27, 2014 

  • Staying safe

    Elements of the City/UK safety plan:

    ■ The Lexington Division of Fire is moving its command post close to campus and calling in additional firefighters.

    ■ The city Division of Code Enforcement has delivered about 200 door hangers in neighborhoods near campus. The door hangers provide information about trash and combustibles. Code enforcement staffers will work in the area during and after the game.

    ■ UK police will use the new security system installed on campus last year that includes nearly 400 cameras at key locations on campus. The cameras are expected to provide extra surveillance to benefit investigations in the event of any criminal behavior on campus.

    If anyone sees anything out of the ordinary on campus, they are asked to call UK police at (859) 257-1616.

Charlotte Turley has been patrolling the streets near the University of Kentucky's campus for years.

Nicknamed the "Buggie police," Turley is an enforcement officer for Lexington's Department of Environmental Quality Division of Waste Management. On Wednesday, Turley was patrolling State Street, an area that is heavily populated with student housing, looking for trash or Herbies that had not been rolled back from the curb.

She had written up 24 trash violations by 1 o'clock; she typically writes about 15 violations a week.

"By me writing tickets, they'll move them, because they do set them on fire," she said.

Turley has been part of a much larger plan to enforce and maintain order for Friday's matchup in the NCAA Tournament pitting UK against the University of Louisville.

Throughout this week, local and campus police, university and city officials have united, offering similar messages that have one common goal: peaceful fun after Friday's game.

On Thursday, UK President Eli Capilouto sent out a reminder asking staff and students to "respect the rivalry and treat fans of both teams with dignity and respect. The foolish actions of a few tarnish the academic and athletic traditions of excellence that define the University of Kentucky."

UK spokesman Jay Blanton said the university started a social media campaign Thursday using the hashtag #RespectTheRivalry to ensure students celebrate appropriately.

"We will be monitoring the situation through the night," he said. "As in the past, the vast majority will celebrate responsibly."

Concerns about rowdy behavior stem from past celebrations that got out of hand.

More than 75 people were arrested in 2012 when UK and U of L met in the Final Four for the first time and after UK defeated Kansas in the NCAA championship game.

After UK beat U of L, excited fans poured into the streets around campus. Scenes of large crowds — some chugging or throwing bottles, others simply cheering or exposing body parts — flooded social media timelines. Trash bins, couches and other items, including an overturned car, were burned.

State Street became a haven for mischief. Bottle-dodging officers came in riot gear with fire extinguishers and batons.

That experience has inspired city and university officials to work on a plan to prevent disorder. A plan is in place, but they will make adjustments along the way, which is what they did in the past. For example, after the Final Four game they made people move their cars off the street so they would not be damaged, flipped and burned.

Ken Armstrong, Lexington police commander in the Bureau of Special Operations, said the city has worked with other agencies to clean up areas surrounding UK to remove couches, trash and other items that might be easy to set on fire.

"We want everyone to enjoy the event," he said. "But disorderly or illegal activity on anyone's part is a major concern for us. Some of the issues that we've had in the past, we're doing everything we can to possibly prevent them from occurring."

Common crimes during celebrations range from arson to wanton endangerment, including misdemeanors and felonies, Armstrong said.

Robert Mock, UK's vice president for student affairs, said UK students should be aware that, as in past years, "if they engage in dangerous or criminal behavior, not only will they be subject to criminal charges, but also may face penalties from the university through the Student Code of Conduct judicial process."

Turley said she is optimistic about the students this year. She knows a lot of them.

At the beginning of every school year she hands out refrigerator magnets with trash pick-up days and other information regarding violations. Students have paid attention to some of her information.

"These kids this year are trying to stay in compliance in taking in their containers," she said. "It has been a good year."

Earlier this week, State Street lawns were littered with beer bottles; parking was congested, and a pair of tennis shoes dangled from a set of power lines. And the trash was still there. But Turley said waste management and other city officials will be out Friday to throw away any trash that could be burned during celebrations.

UK junior Chad Verost was a freshman in 2012, and he said he doubts that celebrations will get out of hand.

"I don't think any burning of trash containers will happen," he said. "Things should be a little more mellow."

Justin Madden: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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