No serious injuries from Unofficial 2014
CHAMPAIGN — It will likely be a couple of days before the complete tally of arrests and tickets from Unofficial scofflaws is tallied. But overall, Champaign police were breathing a sigh of relief that the 18th Unofficial St. Patrick's Day is now in the history books.
"We didn't have any serious injuries, which was good," said Champaign police Lt. Jim Clark, whose district includes the campus area. "It was comparable to last year. The weather was a lot nicer so we did see more people out moving around."
Intensive pre-partying educational campaigns warning students of the consequences of arrest and the dangers of binge drinking apparently paid off.
"I really think the students are starting to hear our messages. We didn't have any big, out of control parties," he said. "The ones that were going on were fairly small and manageable. We saw several where they were checking IDs, making sure people were 21. There was one where they actually had the porch barricaded with a big piece of plywood and a sign that said 'must be 21' to enter. It's a lot better to see that than front doors wide open where everybody can just come in."
Clark estimated that the number of tickets written for city ordinance violations would exceed last year's 210. When the emergency operations center shut down and he headed home at 3 a.m. Saturday, somewhere around 260 tickets had been issued.
That's in addition to the approximately dozen arrests for violations of state law.
State's Attorney Julia Rietz said the sheriff's office had planned to release people brought to jail for certain offenses with a notice to appear in court March 25.
"Others who bonded out were set over to Thursday," she said, explaining that's to avoid a bottleneck of cases on Monday, which is typically a heavy arraignment court day.
As of midnight Friday, Rietz said, of the 11 arrests for violations of state law, seven were for violations of the social host law, a misdemeanor offense. The other four involved resisting a peace officer; resisting, battery and underage drinking; driving under the influence; and aggravated battery.
Two men were also arrested for allegedly having Ecstasy intended for sale.
Rietz said Justin Talley, 22, who listed an address in the 900 block of West Union Street, Champaign, and Brandon Clark, 19, of Pekin, were in a car that went the wrong way on Sixth Street, which is a one-way street, about 10:30 p.m. Friday.
UI police Detective Sgt. Joe McCullough said Talley turned to go north on Sixth, which is one-way south, when officers immediately noticed the traffic blunder and stopped the car.
When Talley opened the glove box to get an insurance card, an officer saw a bag with 14 pills, suspected to be MDMA, also known as Ecstasy. While the car was stopped, the department's drug-sniffing dog went around it and alerted to the presence of more suspected drugs.
On Clark, the backseat passenger, police found seven capsules of MDMA, and in the trunk they found a backpack with a scale and another 59 bags of powdered MDMA, McCullough said.
He estimated the total amount of MDMA seized at 180 doses, which usually sells for about $20 per dose. The men appeared in bond court Saturday morning on a preliminary charge of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. They are expected to be formally charged Monday.
Clark said while he didn't have numbers, it seemed to him that the number of medical transports were higher this year. Those people taken to area hospitals were suffering from drinking too much alcohol as opposed to any traumatic injuries.
"Nobody fell from any balconies and there were no severe accidents of any kind that we know of," Clark said.
There have been two deaths associated with the drinking holiday in years past.
After what could be considered a balmy day in the midst of one of the grimmest winters in recent history, there was a lull in the action from about 7 to 10:30 p.m., Clark said.
"Then it definitely started picking up again when people started going to the bars. We were real busy until about 1 to 1:30 a.m. then it started tapering off," he said.
Saturday was fairly quiet during the day, he said.
Unofficial: The day after
Unofficial was dark, chilly and crapulent at Sixth and Green on Saturday.
Crapulent means sick from excess and there were lots of large coffees and pale faces in display among University of Illinois students.
What wasn't seen was the wild, drunken and vomiting behavior of Friday. Out-of-towners out-performed locals on achieving inebriation.
UI law student Sandy Malani was with her Chicago campus friends Zeenal Amin and Rina Patel. Malani said most of the fun was Friday, but she'll keep coming back in future years.
"I'm not going to break any laws," she said.
Alyssa Hutchens of Chicago came down to surprise her boyfriend. "I'm caffeinating right now, but I'll be good to go soon," she said.
Giggly Eastern Illinois University students Samantha Daugherty, Lindsay Hedl and Jennifer Parker were high on friendship, not alcohol. They came for a track meet.
"This is a much bigger campus (than EIU), but it seems pretty quiet. I expected to see a lot more green," Hedl said.
Green was in stealth mode as most of the passersby wore winter coats.
Jerry Cartin of Danville said he was disappointed there wasn't more fraternization.
"It sounds like I missed the big day," he said.
— PAUL WOOD