State College Police Discuss Ohio State Rally And Ensuing Crime
State College Police are usually busy on gameday, but last night was certainly an exception to the usual calm. A release sent out early Sunday morning said somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 fans gathered in the streets to celebrate the victory, and because of the sheer amount of excited students, there was sure to be some crime.
Of the multiple crimes that came from the large, rambunctious crowd, most were citations, meaning individuals names’ were taken down and they’ll receive a fine or summons in the mail. There were no criminal arrests last night and nobody taken to jail on the spot.
Despite the chaos, there was only one significant injury reported to police. An individual was struck in the head with a bottle and taken to Mt. Nittany Medical Center for treatment, where Sergeant Todd Scholton said he likely was treated with stitches but the case is still open.
Many who were at the rally noticed the pepper spray that was dispersed among the crowd, and many students who said they were doing nothing outlandish or even remotely illegal ended up with the chemical stinging their eyes. Sgt. Scholton said the pepper spray foggers used last night are the normal method of crowd control because they allow officers to limit destruction to other individuals and property without getting hands-on with the celebrators or anyone committing a crime.
The other more significant crimes of the evening were criminal mischiefs and disorderly conducts that were primarily related to destruction and removal of street signs and light posts. The Borough will go through this week and identify a tally of all of the damage and the total cost of the damage.
One police report noted that there were three street lights damaged between the 300-500 block of S. Garner Street and one light post entirely removed from the ground on Beaver Ave. There were also three street signs removed from Garner Street, at the road’s intersection with Fairmount, Prospect and Hamilton. No individual was charged in these accounts and they were credited to the mass of people moving down the street.
Another call said that a male took down a stop sign and its post at the intersection of Beaver Ave. and Locust Lane and will be sent a misdemeanor charge because his actions were seen as ones that continued and contributed to the disorderly disturbance. In the same vein, police saw a man climb a light pole and attempt to remove the Locust Lane street sign and also charged him with a misdemeanor disorderly conduct because he continued to attempt to remove the sign.
Police saw another individual taking a street sign into the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house but were not able to identify the individual. The fraternity president spoke with police and the sign was returned so police called it even because they got the sign back and nobody was charged.
There were a few other notable crimes. One female reported that an individual threw a Miller Lite can into her apartment window, shattering the glass. Also, a verbal altercation between two males got physical and one punched the other in the face, breaking his jaw. There were also a few small fires, and though mostly branches, police said one individual was cited for lighting a chair on fire and another for attempting to light a couch on fire.
Police have a “Large Crowd and Spontaneous Celebration” plan in place for every big event that takes place at Penn State or in State College, including all football games and other events like Arts Fest, although as you can probably tell, it’s not typically necessary to call into action. Sargent Scholton said that officers are assigned locations during the game and then also a post after in case an event like last night occurs. Police from State College, Penn State, and the nearby Commonwealth campuses, as well as State Troopers, have locations during the game and any department with sufficient “riot” safety equipment joins the forces downtown.
Scholton also said that, interestingly, the officers don’t have TVs to watch the game but when the score starts to get close or the game gets down to the final minutes, officers are made aware of what’s going on and the captain and chief start to formulate a plan.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen in the game,” he said. Those who weren’t on the field for the post-game storming moved to their downtown posts and, as you also probably noticed, the horses that were already up at the stadium came down to Beaver Avenue as well.
Sgt. Scholton noted the Borough’s clean up efforts, which were so swift you probably couldn’t even tell there was a rally when you walked down Beaver Ave. this morning. Street sweepers were out around 3 a.m. and much of the trash was gone.
“We don’t want people thinking we don’t care about the town,” Scholton said. “This isn’t our first trip around with this stuff.”