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WMU police: 'Be a Chip, be responsible' at CMU-WMU game

Kalamazoo police doubling patrol for upcoming game


CMU Police stand in the shade and watch over tailgaters on Sept. 22, 2017 outside Kelly/Shorts Stadium. (File Photo)

This weekend, hundreds of Central Michigan University students will be traveling to Kalamazoo for one of the school's biggest rivalry football games: Western Weekend.

Although not all of those students will actually be attending the Sept. 28 football game, Western Michigan University police are still preparing for the upcoming tailgates and partying that will be happening on- and off-campus. 

With a Saturday game and noon kickoff perfect for tailgating, Kalamazoo-area law enforcement urges Central students to act responsibly for the upcoming rivalry game.

Increased patrols

The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety plans to double its patrol officers for the football game, adding an additional 20 officers to the 13-20 that regularly patrol the city. 

"We increase our campus patrol for any big games or events on campus," said KDPS Lt. Scott Smith. "Obviously at a Central vs. Western game, there is a potential for rivalry so we take into account that with a large amount of alcohol, things can arise. 

"That doesn’t mean it’s going to, but we make every effort to prevent those things from happening."

WMU Police Department will not be increasing its number of patrol officers this weekend, but the department will receive help from surrounding law enforcement agencies on Saturday, said Chief Scott Merlo. 

Authorities from Michigan State Police, Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office, City of Portage Police Department and Kalamazoo Township Police Department will assist with patrols on WMU's campus for the football game. 

Although the football game represents a decades-long rivalry between the two schools, Merlo said police see varying amounts of rowdiness each year.

"Some years have been worse than others," he said. 

But WMU and Kalamazoo law enforcement plan to treat this game just like any other big game on Western's campus.

"This game really doesn’t differ from the other big games we have," Merlo said. "But because of its decent weather and a Saturday, I think we’ll see an increased presence in the tailgate lot."

Smith said that Kalamazoo law enforcement doesn't plan to treat this football game any differently than any other well-attended event at WMU.

"We hope not (to see any rowdiness)," Smith said. "Usually for game weekends we increase party patrols. That’s not just for football games, it’s based on any events where we think there’s a potential for outbursts here or there."

Kalamazoo-area law enforcement officers are preparing for the same level of patrols whether Western wins or loses, Smith said. WMU (2-2) is favored to win by 17 points over CMU (2-2).

Advice from the cops

Smith cautioned students – from both Western and Central – to use common sense and good judgment this weekend.

"If someone will drink, limit it to a point where they can use common sense," he said. "Be a proper young adult. Enjoy our city, just like if our people go to CMU, we tell them not to be destructive and to be a good person. If everyone does that, we can all have a good time."

Merlo also urged students to behave responsibly for Saturday's football game and to not let the rivalry get the best of them.

"Don’t let a mistake at an event have a negative effect on your life," he said. "Be smart, be safe, make good decisions. And if you need us, we’ll be here."

He hopes to remind CMU students to represent Central well while they're in Kalamazoo.

"You’re representing CMU when you’re here," Merlo said. "Be responsible. Be a Chip. I tell (WMU) students the same thing when they go to Central for away games: You're representing your school."

Where you can tailgate

Merlo said Lot 105 is the most popular tailgate area for football games. The lots open four hours before football games, meaning tailgate lots will open at 8 a.m. for the noon kickoff.

The only place where drinking is allowed on WMU's campus is in the tailgate lots, Merlo said. Individuals can carry alcohol, but only if the containers are closed. Glass containers, external speakers and animals are not allowed in the tailgate lots.

"We want people to have fun, and we want Central students here," Merlo said. "We don’t want any issues between the two groups."