Police prepare of another busy football weekend


Mikinna Kerns/Iowa State Daily

Police speak with tailgaters before the Iowa State vs Northern Iowa football game on Sept. 2, 2017.

Michael Heckle

Ames and Iowa State Police are gearing up for another busy weekend as Iowa State prepares to host what is arguably the quintessential Iowa football rivalry: the Cy-Hawk game.

And if last week’s game against University of Northern Iowa was any indication, police will have their hands full. 

“It’s going to be busy, we know that going into it,” Ames Police Commander Geoff Huff said. “The Iowa/Iowa State game, whether it’s here or in Iowa City is probably the biggest game that either one has for the year.”

Last weeks game saw an unusually high amount disorderly conduct, complete with drunken dancing on top of cars and flying bottles aimed at police officers. At one point Iowa State Police, Ames PD, Nevada PD and Story County Sheriffs were all called in to break up an out of control party at the Ballard Lot, a private lot that annually hosts the Haunted Forest.

“When cleared out the Ballard Lot [last game], that sent a lot of folks to our grass lot, which then caused the issues we saw in the grass lot,” Iowa State Police Chief Michael Newton said. “If we can control that on the front end I think we’ll have a much better experience for anyone.”

Newton also said that the lot also tends to attract underage drinking in addition to wild parties.

The shear size of the game also poses some problems for police and traffic enforcement. With 80,000 to 90,000 people expected to attend the festivities, police expect fans to start arriving as early as Thursday evening, with a more massive influx expected Friday afternoon.

“I will have extra enforcement teams and extra officers doing enforcement in the tailgating areas,” Newton said. “We will see a lot more fans in town that are here for tailgating purposes than attending the game.”

That extra enforcement comes in the form of the Story Country Sheriffs, the Iowa State Patrol and Nevada Police, who before this year had never assisted with football games.

Even with the additional help, police expect resources to be spread thin on Saturday, which could lead to stacked calls and longer wait times for police service. 

“Usually during a football game we aren’t as busy, because everybody is either at the game or watching the game,” Huff said. “But during the UNI game, we were busy even during the game. We kind of expect that same thing.”

The timing of the game itself is also a concern. With kickoff at 11 a.m., the game is expected to be over in time for fans to rest and hit the bars that evening.

Police, however, expect behavior in the stands to be far better than in the lots. Iowa State police even sent an officer to Iowa City Thursday to hand out donuts and T-shirts as part of their “Donut Disrespect Campaign” to encourage students to have fun responsibly this weekend.   

“We want people to have a good time,” Newton said. “But we need to have it done in a safe manner and we need people to be respectful and to think about their behaviors.”