Unofficial: Ridin' with a cop

Unofficial: Ridin' with a cop


CHAMPAIGN — It’s the first day with really nice weather in about three months after a harsh winter. The buses and trains to Champaign-Urbana were full Thursday night. Police have been preparing for weeks.

But University of Illinois Deputy Police Chief Skip Frost doesn’t cringe before he starts work around 6 a.m. Friday. He spent the majority of his career on the midnight shift — this day will be a lot like that.

“It just happens in the daylight,” Frost said. “It’s really not that much different from any major football weekend.”

Now a police administrator, Frost said Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day is actually one of the few days he’s able to get out of the office and patrol campus.

He knows what the day means — a dangerous mix of binge drinking, lots of pedestrian traffic and crowded balconies. It’s a potentially lethal combination that has taken two lives in the past, injured many, and threatens to do so again. Frost and the other officers are trying to “keep a lid on it.”

He also keeps in mind the UI students who are not getting out of hand while the people around them do. He wants to do everything he can to keep the responsible kids safe.

“This day itself is about
24 hours on a dead sprint for us,” Frost said.

But the reality is that the bulk of Frost’s work has come over the past few weeks. Police officials have to coordinate among a number of area agencies, as well as with UI officials and emergency medical services to make sure everything is in place.

Friday is just about putting the plan into action.

“Very, very time- and labor-intensive,” Frost said. “It’s very difficult to put this plan together.”

But the results are obvious.

“You can’t swing anything down around campus and not hit a public-safety professional trying to help,” Frost said.

It’s a long day for police, but Frost is used to it by now.

“I don’t cringe at the idea of Unofficial,” he said. “It’s one of those things that it’s part of the experience.”

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