'Unofficial' around the corner
They came from nine states, 15 cities and 47 colleges, including four other Big Ten universities and the University of Illinois.
And they'll be coming again this Friday for Unofficial St. Patrick's Day.
"We've seen more people on Facebook this year saying they're coming to the event," said Lt. Jim Clark of the Champaign police department.
He wishes they would all just stay away.
"We want it to go away. All of our goals are to put an end to Unofficial."
Not gonna happen. Clark knows that. So as the commander of the police department's South District — campus — he's getting ready for what he knows will happen.
Some young people will be taken to a hospital for alcohol poisoning.
Some will be taken to jail.
And there's the risk of more dangerous outcomes.
"As you know, we've had previous deaths," Clark said. "We definitely do not want that."
Hundreds will be arrested, many for underage drinking. Most of those arrests will happen away from the heart of campus with its concentration of bars. Records show most of the arrests in 2013 were on the west side of campus, closer to Oak Street than to Sixth Street.
"We've cracked down more on bars the last few years," said Clark, including the imposition of rules intended to make it harder for anyone under 21 to drink there.
"I'm not sure underage drinking is ever going away," said Clark.
"It seems like we see (those) under 21 get more intoxicated, more transports to the hospital. Those who are 21 have been there and done that. Binge drinking is more with the young age."
As in the past, the city this year is limiting the hours bars can be open, the amount of package liquor and beer that can be sold in the campus area, the entry age for bars.
Here's a look back at the 2013 Unofficial:
First arrest: 9:50 a.m. March 1, a 22-year-old student at the University of Illinois-Chicago, in the 900 block of South Locust Street, Champaign, for public possession.
Final arrest: 3:16 a.m. March 2, a 21-year-old UI student, in the 400 block of East Green Street, Champaign, for domestic battery.
States: People from the following states were arrested or given notices to appear in court: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Big Ten: Apart from the UI, students from other Big Ten universities included Iowa, Indiana, Northwestern and Michigan State.
Oldest person arrested: A 39-year-old Champaign man was arrested for public possession at 1:13 p.m. March 1 at Fourth and Green Streets.
Most arrests: At 35 E. Chalmers St., C, 69 people were arrested.
4,000: The number of doors police and others knocked on in late February to pass out information about how to avoid trouble during Unofficial.
"Our enforcement effort is to keep everyone safe," said Champaign police spokeswoman Rene Dunn. "The primary focus is to keep everyone safe."
Clark says he knows that information is getting through to some.
"At a party we ended up raiding last year, (the hosts) had the information and they were checking IDs. Unfortunately, one of their guests was letting people in the back door."
Police calls: On the Unofficial weekends in the past five years, there have been 5,990 calls for service in all of Champaign County. Of those, 2,022 — one in three — is for the area bounded by Clark Street, Lincoln Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue and First Street.
"Our staffing for the rest of the city really doesn't change at all. We're bringing additional officers" to campus, said Clark. State police are "close to half" of the enforcement on campus for that day.
Traveled the farthest: A 21-year-old came 510 miles, from Roseville. Minn., and was arrested at 2 p.m. for throwing dangerous materials.
210 notices to appear in court for city ordinance violation
Dispositions (From Champaign city attorney's office)
165 paid a fine to the city before a court date. Minimum fine was $320.
15 more paid at the city and the case was dismissed.
7 cases dismissed
6 defendants “defaulted” and case satisfied.
6 plea agreements entered, defendants placed on court supervision and terminated satisfactorily
5 defendants defaulted and have not paid; warrants for arrest issued.
3 pleaded guilty and satisfied fine.
1 pleaded guilty and has not paid; warrant for arrest issued.
1 pleaded guilty and is still paying fine.
1 defaulted and is still paying fine.
Other arrests: (From Champaign County state's attorney's office)
General battery: 4. Two pleaded guilty, one dismissed, one not charged.
Possession of drug paraphernalia: 2. Both pleaded guilty.
Minor in possession and resisting a peace officer: 1. Pleaded guilty to minor in possession.
Domestic battery: 1. Dismissed due to uncooperative victim.
Assault: 1. Pleaded guilty.
Possession of controlled substance: 1. Pleaded guilty.
Outstanding warrant: 1. No new offense attached.