Following ASU’s football victory over the U of A Wildcats last Saturday night, ASU decided to allow students to purchase tickets for the PAC-12 Championship. Obviously, emotions are pretty high amongst the student populous, and everyone converged upon Wells Fargo Arena in a rush to purchase tickets. After several hundred students (well over a thousand, easily) swarmed WFA, ASU decided to shut down ticket sales, which ignited the crowd. The students at WFA began throwing barriers, fighting, and one of our own was assaulted.
As if the horrible planning on behalf of the university wasn’t enough of an insult, the appalling staffing levels ASUPD displayed at this event should do the trick. Low staffing in ANY situation is bad, but having a couple of officers to manage several hundred angry students IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. The sad thing is several additional officers were pulled from on-duty patrol, which means if something massive were to break out elsewhere, ASUPD would be unable to respond.
If something more serious had happened, has ASUPD even given its officers adequate enough training to be able to respond to the situation? Several other major universities–Ohio State University, Michigan State University, University of Georgia–all have Special Response Teams (SRT) specially trained in riot/crowd control, among other things. Why? Because they’ve had riots or other major incidents on campus they’ve had to respond to. We’re not suggesting ASUPD should form an SRT team soon (there is no staffing!!), but it should be included in future plans of the department as the university grows.
Bottom line: ASUPD should NOT place its officers KNOWINGLY into a situation where the officer must rely on a “nothing will happen!” mentality. This is NOT a realistic, safe, or stable strategy. You are running a bare-bones operation at THE COST OF YOUR EMPLOYEES’ SAFETY! It does not take any formal training in law enforcement for a REASONABLE person to observe that the aforementioned scenario is bad!!
We are glad the officer involved is OK, and relieved the situation was not worse, but we are concerned about how quickly ASUPD’s predicament is turning ugly. We should NOT have to wait and find out how much more violence will transpire before ASUPD removes Chief Pickens.