Law enforcement prepares for Welcome Weekend, 'not sure what to expect'


College students gather outside Aug. 15 to celebrate Welcome Weekend.

Students are once again returning to campus which means Welcome Weekend, traditionally one of the biggest party weekends of the year, is approaching.

Local authorities said they are preparing for whatever situations may occur. However, Autume Balcom, the public information officer the Mount Pleasant Police Department, said MPPD is not sure what to expect the weekend of Aug. 27-29.

In Fall 2020, a surge of COVID-19 cases occurred after several large gatherings took place. With available vaccines and lower enrollment, it isn't clear if there will be as many gatherings or if they will lead to another surge. 

“We are going to continue with our plan of action that we've always done just so we're prepared,” Balcom said. “From our understanding, enrollment is down this year, so we're not sure what to expect.”

However, Welcome Weekend violations continued their four-year decline last year as more people stayed inside. 

MPPD is preparing for any scenario with increased enforcement Thursday through Saturday, with officers patrolling city-wide on foot, in cars, and on motorcycles. 

The Central Michigan University Police Department will be patrolling campus as well as partnering with MPPD to patrol off-campus areas with high concentrations of students.

The Mount Pleasant Fire Department and emergency responders will also be out in the community. A large concentration of the patrol will be in the neighborhoods north of Central Michigan University’s campus, specifically Bellows Street to Main Street in downtown Mount Pleasant. 

The MPPD does not require employees to be vaccinated.

For anyone participating in Welcome Week celebrations, Balcom recommends going in a group, paying attention to surroundings, arranging for rides and watching their alcohol consumption.

CMUPD Public Information Officer Mike Sienkiewicz suggests students download the Rave Guardian app which allows users to file a report of request help through text and dial 911 with one button.

For non-emergencies and noise complaints call Central Dispatch at (989) 773-1000. Call police at 911 for medical emergencies. CMUPD can be reached at (989) 774-3081. Balcom said that any minor that is under the influence and experiencing a medical emergency will not be arrested. 

“There is a law in Michigan that we do not arrest anybody when they're calling for medical help even if they're underage,” Balcom said. “They will not be in trouble at all, because we are more concerned with somebody being medically okay.”