Dealing with the drunks

Publication YearIssue Date 

As a general rule at the University of Calgary, it is non-students who tend to cause the most trouble for Campus Security.This past month was no exception.

A Campus Security officer was the victim of a serious assault on

Dec. 1, raising concerns about the role of officers in keeping the campus safe during late night shifts.

Two officers were dispatched at 2 a.m. to monitor a large crowd of people just leaving the Den. Shortly after, the group became involved in a verbal altercation with other bar patrons just outside the MacEwan Student Centre and a fight ensued, with one person being assaulted to the point of needing intervention. Campus Security officers requested backup and Calgary Police Services were called.

"When the officer tried to intervene on behalf of the victim the crowd jumped on him," said Campus Security Manager Lanny Fritz. "He received multiple blows causing extensive internal injuries that required transport to Foothills via Emergency Medical Services. CPS attended along with the HAWCS helicopter, and the individuals responsible were arrested."

This assault was the last in a series that occurred on campus over the fall semester. It is the fourth incident where a Campus Security officer has required emergency medical treatment. In a separate incident involving an underage patron drinking at the Den, a CPS officer was also assaulted while attending at MSC.

"A CPS officer was kicked in the groin while arresting a 16-year-old male who had been drinking at the Den," said Fritz. "We've never had a concentration of these types of incidents before."

With the popularity of the newly-renovated Den, occurrences involving patrons have increased and so has the concern that these incidents are a precursor of situations to come. According to Fritz, the method of delivering security at the U of C has traditionally been a "soft" approach as opposed to the "hard" approach of the big bar industry.

"As a [campus] security department we try to be helpful in providing assistance and direction to our clients and visitors to the U of C," said Fritz. "The big bar industry promotes a hard security approach, employing big bouncers with reputations for manhandling patrons who cause problems on their premises.

"Our problem here as I see it, is that the industry standard for the bar business is contrary to the type of security we want at the U of C. Meeting force with force is not the best policy."

These events have lead the U of C to consider these new hazards as a workplace safety issue for their security employees, and they have been attempting to resolve this issue through the U of C Alcohol Policy Committee.

In related incidents, Campus Security responded to an increased amount of impaired drivers on campus.

"Officers are directed, if reasonable, to engage suspected impaired drivers on campus to suggest other options [to driving] like having someone else drive home, taking a taxi or parking it overnight [using the SU Park and Party Pass]," said Fritz. "We would even pay for the taxi."

Impaired drivers frequenting campus who are unwilling to facilitate a safer way home for themselves can expect to be in contact with CPS.

"We would offer these suggestions and failing that, if they drive away, licence and direction of travel will be reported to CPS who would deal with it from there," said Fritz.

Park and Party Passes can be obtained from the Den bar staff or by contacting Campus Security at 220--5333.