The University of Dayton basketball team’s win against Syracuse on Saturday could prove costly to taxpayers after more than a dozen law enforcement agencies were called to assisted campus police in controlling crowds.
More than two thousand people took to the streets in the south student neighborhood at UD’s campus when the Flyers beat Syracuse 55-53 during NCAA tournament play. Students recalled the madness, which they said rivaled the campus riot on St. Patrick’s Day last year.
“We were just sitting there on the roof on (Kiefaber Street) looking at everyone on the streets and there was no blank spot where you couldn’t see anyone,” said Katrina Steinhauser, a university senior studying communications. “We saw people running from the bars.”
A total of 130 officers from 12 jurisdictions, including Dayton, Miami Township, Moraine and the Ohio State Highway Patrol, were called in to help handle the crowds. Those departments told The Dayton Daily News they still had enough resources to respond to calls in their own area. However, in some cases, being asked to assist UD will mean they will have to pay officers overtime. Such was the case for the Dayton police department.
“After 11 or 11:30 (p.m.) we had multiple officers, probably 40, that were not on duty that were being paid overtime, taxpayer money, so we have to be cognizant of that,” said Assistant Chief Bob Chibali.
Officials have yet to determine how much the jurisdictions paid in overtime.
If the university planned for the additional support was unclear Monday. In a statement UD officials released prior to the win, they said “public safety will be in the student neighborhoods, as usual, and will be keeping a finger on the pulse of the student community.”
A university spokeswoman could not comment on a plan, if any, that was in place Saturday to contain the crowds. The evening’s revelries resulted in three fires and five arrests, including four students.
Even with the issues, some students said Monday they felt the police presence was “excessive” and the university is sending the wrong message to those outside the school about “how we handle a win.”
“(Police) had their shields up like we were going to charge them,” Steinhauser said. “We weren’t doing anything crazy, it was just us doing what we’re supposed to be doing which is a community coming together and having a good time to celebrate a win. It’s nothing you wouldn’t see at another college.”
“Just the fact that they were in riot gear made it kind of intimidating,” said Bryan Sigward, a fifth-year engineering student. “It kind of felt like being under a police state a little bit.”
University officials declined to comment on the police presence or any use of force Saturday, referring to a statement issued over the weekend when UD President Dr. Daniel Curran praised how officers handled the celebration.
Erica Shelton, a third-year biology student, had the opposite feeling, a said she hopes the university keeps up a similar campus police presence during Thursday night’s Sweet 16 game against Stanford.
“In a way you want (the police) here because it’s a big crowd and it’s nice to know someone’s there if it goes south and they can protect you,” she said.
University officials said they are still developing a plan for Thursday’s game and could not release details Monday.