How Athens Police Department keeps its Bobcats under control during fest season

Springtime in Athens has rolled around again. With it comes beautiful weather, graduation, and of course fest season.

Fest weekends tend to be much more disorderly than the average weekend in Athens. As a result, the city always sees a necessary increase in police presence. With such an increase in population and risky behavior, what steps do the authorities take to keep these young adults safe?

The number of officers patrolling increases dramatically during the spring fests. Officers play a variety of distinct roles during this time of year. There are authorities patrolling on foot, horses, and some in plain clothes as undercovers.

Athens Police Department’s Mounted Patrol are the most iconic role that police employ during fest season. They never fail to get attention from students.

Mounted police begin their journey at the Athens Fairgrounds and ride their way into town toward the fest attendees. They typically travel in packs of 3 to 12 officers.

“We use the horses because it gives our police force more of a presence. We think that the presence of the horses and the view we get from being up high helps us to defuse and control situations before they can get out of hand,” said Ohio University Police Officer Bryan Newvahner. Mounted patrol officers seem to get the attention and respect of fest-goers much more effectively than officers in patrol cars, riding bikes, or on foot.

The Athens Police Department does allow for students to pet the horses, they just request that the students ask for permission before touching the animals.

A group of officers that I spoke with were all in agreement that an officer on horseback is much more effective at stopping and preventing reckless behavior in addition to maintaining order opposed to officers on foot. Mounted officers in Athens have been used since 1996 and do not seem to be going away anytime soon. They have become a staple in the spring fest image and culture.

Police reinforcements come from around the state from locations including; Columbus, Medina, Dublin, and Summit to name a few. They come from all over Ohio to support the Athens Police Department during its busy fest season. The Athens Police Department shares a mutual aid agreement where each department assists the other during busy weekends. “We need reinforcements to accommodate for the huge jump in population and risky behavior,” said Newvahner.

“We typically make around 25 to 30 arrests on any given busy fest,” said Newvahner. “We want to let students have fun but prevent them from hurting themselves or anyone else around them.” The majority of the arrests that law enforcement make are for public urination, underage drinking, or public intoxication.

Some of the fest attendees were under the impression that the police specifically targeted their party while allowing others to continue. This left me wondering, why do officers shut down certain parties and not others?

The Athens Police Department clearly wants to prevent and stop the reckless and risky behavior that comes with fest season, but why do they choose to shut down one party and allow the others to continue? To an outsider, each party just appears to have loud music and many drunk college students.

The main criteria that officers take into consideration when shutting down house parties during fests is behavior. “More often than not when we shut down a certain address it is because they have had several repeated offenses over a period of time at the same location,” said Newvahner. The repeated offenses usually happen later in the day, after students have already been drinking for an extended period of time.

Police did not always shut down street fests as early as they do now. When Ohio University was on the quarter system only a few years ago, fests would go much later into the evening.

Police began shutting down parties much earlier on the semester system because the conflict between fest-goers and law enforcement was so high. Athens Police Department found that when they prevented the fests from going so late, the encounters they had with students decreased dramatically.

As is to be expected, some students are less than enthusiastic about their parties getting shut down by the police. One tenant of a Mill Street rental property, Stephanie Anthony said, “there were parties a lot louder and crazier than ours. I don’t know why they shut us down, it’s our property.”

Each student that I spoke with seemed to have a different opinion on the police presence during the fests. Some were appreciative of the presence that they had and thought that it made them feel safer in a hectic environment.

I spoke to Mark Taylor, a sophomore studying management information systems to get his take. “I feel safer knowing that there are police all around me when so many people are drinking. They pretty much let us do what we want and only get involved if it gets too crazy, plus I love petting all the horses.”

There are also students who find that the police are too intrusive on their festing. “The number of cops just seems unnecessary, we have gotten more and more every year for the last four years and they shut down the streets earlier and earlier every year too,” said Brett Webb, a senior studying geology.

Officer Newvahner said that there are a few steps students can take to stay safe and avoid conflict with law enforcement during fest weekends. “Drinking on the sidewalk is and always has been illegal, so do not do it,” said Newvahner and a few of his colleagues.

The officers also said that respect is very important when it comes to dealing with the police. They are there to maintain order and keep students safe, they are not out to get anyone or prevent students from having a good time.

He also said, “if it is your house, try to keep it under control.” Recurring violations, such as noise, public urination, littering, and intoxication can lead to a citation and the authorities asking students to leave if they do not live there.

After interviewing representatives from both sides, students and law enforcement, there seems to be a good balance of control and freedom for the students to have fun without harming themselves or others around them.

Students and law enforcement look to have another successful fest season in spring of 2018.

I love Court Street, you love Court Street, we all love Court Street.

In this video I recap my conversations with a few alumni of Ohio University to see what they think about Court Street after leaving Athens, Ohio to pursue their careers. I asked them what they think about Athens’ iconic brick road and how it has changed over the years from when they were students.

Gearheads rejoice! This weeks essential automotive news

Here is this week’s need to know stories from all over the automotive world.

Photo Credits: Wikipedia

1. Ford Motor Company invests $1 billion into Argo AI

With help from the Pittsburgh based artificial intelligence start up, Ford hopes this will help them achieve their goal of having their autonomous vehicles on the road by 2021.

Argo AI’s key focus will be the development of a virtual driver system for Ford’s self-driving cars.

Ford has become a majority stakeholder in company, but in the future Ford says that Argo AI could also license its self-driving technologies to other companies.

2. Fiat Chrysler announces the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 

The SRT demon will be making appearances at 2017 auto shows across the country. This will be an enthusiasts car, essentially a barely-legal, stripped out, more powerful version of the Challenger SRT Hellcat.

The SRT Demon will hit show room floors in 2018, prices are not available for the vehicle yet.

Although specific power figures were not yet announced, the Demon will certainly be the most powerful production muscle car by a wide margin.

Toyota Yaris WRC 2016-09-29 002.jpgPhoto Credits: Wikipedia

3. Toyota wins their first WRC race since they last competed in 1999

It only took Toyota’s racing team two events to win their first World Rally Championship race since they last competed in any rally event in 1999.

Former Volkswagen driver Jari-Matti Latvala won the rally for Toyota in the WRC Yaris by nearly thirty seconds over the second place driver.

In two rallies since their return, Toyota has had an incredible start, winning a race and already putting themselves in first place for points standings.

Photo Credits: YouTube

4. 2017 Chicago Auto Show kicks off

February 11-20 Chicago Illinois will host the 2017 auto show at McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America.

There were few new models were announced this year, but there were a myriad of special edition vehicles released with unique paint colors, wheels, and badging.

More information can be found and tickets can be purchased on their website. Adult tickets are $13, seniors ages 62 and over and children ages 7-12 are $7, and children ages 0 to 6 get in free.

5. Matt Farah finally drives the Porsche 991 GT3 RS

Many enthusiasts have been waiting to hear Matt Farah’s opinion from the Smoking Tire on the new Porsche 991 GT3 RS.

Matt loved the car, praising it for its incredible exhaust sound, wide power band, and steering feel through corners. However, for the money he recommends the Ferrari 488 GTB even though it costs an extra $35,000.

Matt thinks the Porsche’s PDK gearbox is still the best in the world and if you can get one of these for a good price you should pick it up.

LorsAutoWeekly is the weekly one stop newsletter for the biggest headlines in the car world. We focus on all things automotive including modified cars, new cars, car technologies, F1, WRC, car culture, and more. We get all the big stories about your passion and put it in one easy to digest place.

The 5 best smart phones you can buy right now

With so many manufactures making great smart phones in today’s market, the options can become overwhelming. These are the 5 best smart phones you can buy right now and why they may be the best communication device for you over the next two or more years.

1. Google Pixel XL

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The Google Pixel XL is the first phone that Google controlled the entire production process. For this phone Google manufactured the hardware and the software for the fastest and cleanest version of Android ever. It’s still Android though so it’s as customizable as ever and you will always get the newest software updates first straight from Google themselves. The Pixel has a top of the line price tag but it also has top of the line specs to match.

2. IPhone 7 Plus

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You can never go wrong with an IPhone. There is a reason that it seems that everyone owns one, it’s a great phone. The IPhone 7 Plus is no exception. This is Apple’s fastest IPhone yet by a wide margin and it is as smooth as can be. There are tradeoffs with this phone however. In this generation IPhone you gain water resistance but you lose a headphone jack.

3. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

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The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is hands down the best looking smart phone on the market today. With its curved, almost bezeless display, it is sure to turn heads wherever you go. It also touts the best screen on any smartphone as well. Not to mention it is water resistant and the only phone on this list with wireless charging. It is hard to go wrong with the S7 edge if you have the money for it, this phone really is the full package.

4. OnePlus 3T

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The OnePlus 3T is definitely the no-name smartphone of this listicle, even though it should’t be. The 3T is the best value in smartphones right now. it gives you 95% of the performance of all the other smartphones on this list for less than half of the price. With a premium build and specs, if you’re looking for a great smartphone on a budget, look no further.

5. LG G5

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The LG G5 is sort of a mixed bag of a smartphone, but if you are a heavy power user it is the best phone on this list. LG took a risk trying to make this smartphone modular, but it ended up being more gimmicky than actually useful. The important thing is that the G5 has a removable battery, so you can always keep one charged and swap it on the go, something that no other phone on this list can do. You literally never have to plug this phone into the wall if you don’t want to, removable batteries are a dying breed in smartphones these days.

Court Street: my favorite place in Athens

Between the crowds of students, the look and feel of red Athens blocks, and the unique shops and local restaurants that line it, there is nothing quite like Court Street in Athens, Ohio. My own father, a 1984 alumnus of the communications school, always told me, “it is like a whole other world down there.” I never truly understood what he meant until I visited Athens for the first time when I was touring the Ohio University campus with my family back in 2012, but after I saw Court Street for myself, I knew exactly what he had meant.

Court street has a feeling that is special, there is something unique and indescribable about its character. It is my favorite place in Athens because it is the heart and soul of the city. This is where the culture and conversation of the town has been originating since 1804. The history and charisma of this place can be felt by walking up and down the brick lined sidewalks of Court Street. So many generations of students and staff have had unforgettable college experiences on that street, growing up and growing together as a community. Court Street feels as though it is part of Ohio University because of its architecture and closeness to the campus.

Court Street only stretches for about a half mile, but that is all it needs to be one of the most picturesque and charming I have ever seen. Somehow it gives you the feeling of being in a lively city without ever losing that small-town charm that Athens has. Running into friends or professors, attending nationally recognized events like the Halloween parade with 25-foot-tall puppets and live music, or going to the Ohio Brew Week, there is always something new and exciting happening on Court Street.

Students and staff walking down Court Street

Local businesses like The Athena Cinema, Bagel Street Deli, Casa Nueva, or Tony’s Tavern make Court Street and Athens a one of a kind destination. These shops give the street a home-grown, connected community feeling that I have not experienced anywhere else.

Taking a stroll down Court Street never fails to remind me of just how lucky I am to be in a place like this and that it will not last forever. It is my favorite place in Athens because I know it will be where I come back to when I visit my fellow Bobcats in the future as an alumnus, just like my brother and my father before me. The street reminds me of the bonds that I have made here and the relationships that I will never forget with some of my best friends in the world.

Court Street and college green were the first two places in Athens that I saw, they left me in awe, giving me an affinity towards the town and the University. These places made me want to be part of the Bobcat legacy. They are still a large reason why I have such a strong affiliation to this place today. Court street has helped me to grow both socially and professionally as a human being. My favorite place in Athens has taught me life skills that I will take with me forever from this community.