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An intoxication retaliation: Businesses employ officers

By Connor Moriarty
On May 2, 2014

Due to problems involving publicly intoxicated Oxford citizens and students, various Oxford businesses and Miami University buildings are taking extra measures to ensure safety and good behavior by employing security weekend nights.

Three hot spots for late-night dining - Armstrong Student Center (ASC), Skyline Chili and Chipotle - employ Miami University Police Department (MUPD), Oxford Police Department (OPD) and private officers respectively to keep watch over their establishments on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

"These 24-hour-type food places are where everyone seems to stop after a night Uptown," MUPD Lt. Ben Spilman said. "[Drunk patrons can] present a danger to public safety."

Because of these problems, Skyline Chili, 1 E. High St., approached OPD a year ago and asked if they could hire officers part time to stand in their establishment to keep watch OPD Sgt. Jon Varley said.

Skyline had been having problems with intoxicated individuals late at night. Usually, by the time Skyline makes 911 calls, OPD dispatch receives them and officers get to Skyline, situations have already escalated.

So, Skyline decided to contact OPD for a more reliable form of assistance.

"Intoxicated individuals are deterred from entering [Skyline] if there is an officer present," Varley said. "If not, the officer will have to approach the individual if they are being hostile. They will also make the arrest if necessary."

Varley said establishments employ officers at these peak activity times to ensure the general public's well being.

"Police presence does a lot to improve the public's feeling of safety," Varley said.

Varley said after Skyline hired an officer, he has seen a decrease in disorderly situations within.

Before the officer implementation, employees did not feel 100 percent safe according to Skyline manager Israel Jones. But he said reactions to the officers have been positive.

"We knew it would be a good idea, and we feel safer now," he said.

Before Skyline employed officers, Jones said intoxicated individuals were often extremely hostile, and would occasionally try to leave without paying their bill. He said issues of rowdiness in the restaurant have declined significantly.

Chipotle, 1 West High Street, has tackled the same situation with a slightly different approach. According to manager Nick McKee, for about a month, Chipotle has hired security from a private company, CSI Security.

They also were having constant problems with intoxicated individuals causing trouble, so they decided to control the atmosphere.

"Even though we are in a college town, [Chipotle] is a family-oriented restaurant," McKee said. "We wanted to make sure we kept that feeling, and having security here has definitely helped."

Like Skyline, Chipotle employs their extra security Thursday through Saturday nights. Since the change, McKee has seen a significant drop in problems involving disorderly conduct.

"Before we hired security, we had about six or seven problems per night," McKee said. "But after, we see two to three at most. People behave more when there is security lurking."

Miami also hires officers for university buildings, and has done so for a long time. According to Spilman, the Shriver Center employed Miami University Police Department (MUPD) officers when it was open 24 hours. Then, when making plans for ASC, decision makers decided to keep a dedicated officer in the new space.

Armstrong's doors, as well as the interior Pulley Diner, are open 24-hours, making it a popular destination on the walk back from uptown.

"Our number one concern is for the well-being for the problematic individuals and others around them," Spilman said. "Officers present in Armstrong makes students behave and discourages them from entering the building while intoxicated."

Officers are there to make sure everyone behaves, and can make arrests if necessary. Since ASC opened, there have been instances of vomiting and vandalism. So far, there have been two such cases within ASC, including a case of vandalism Feb. 28.

"The level of enforcement depends on the individual's age, and what kind of problem they are posing," Spilman said.

Overall, the response to the implementation of officers has been positive according to Spilman, and he said there are fewer problems because of the presence of police officers.


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