Police departments up reinforcements for Super Bowl Sunday
This Sunday, as thousands of football fans across the nation celebrate the highly anticipated Eagles versus Patriots face-off, police officers are on high alert to ensure the safety of New Brunswick residents.
There is a 41 percent increase in motor-vehicle collisions in the hours following the Super Bowl, according to the Global Road Safety Partnership.
Paul Fischer, captain of the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD), said that he is increasing the number of on-foot patrols as well as driving while intoxicated (DWI) patrols for the weekend prior to, and throughout the night of the game around Rutgers campus and the New Brunswick area.
According to BACtrack, which makes smartphone-enabled breathalyzers to monitor blood alcohol content (BAC), in 2014 its users recorded an average BAC of .091 percent on Super Bowl Sunday, according to its website. The legal limit for driving while intoxicated is .08 BAC percent.
In addition to potential complications that arise from alcohol induced behavior, there are additional factors that arise among passionate fans that could create issues, he said.
“With Super Bowl activity, there’s a possibility for increase use of alcohol and along with everything that alcohol can bring. You have the driving while intoxicated issue and also sometimes folks get a little emotional about who wins the game. So what we’re asking is that people continue to make good personal safety choices they would make on any other day,” Fischer said.
The police department offers escorts to students, faculty and staff upon request, according to the RUPD website. Students in need of the service can call the Rutgers non-emergency phone number or can use the “blue light” system that is located at every bus stop on campus.
In case of emergencies, students should dial 911 for immediate officer assistance.
Fischer said although RUPD and the New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD) will be in communication and working together on Sunday, students need to also be accountable for themselves and think ahead if they plan on drinking.
“We’re asking that people continue to take some personal responsibility in making choices that can help them out,” Fischer said. “Thinking in advance how they’re going to get from point A to point B, so they’re not in a position where they’ve consumed alcohol, and they’re trying to drive themselves or they feel they’re stuck at the passenger with somebody else that might not be in a good position to drive. So that’s where security escorts, taxis or popular services like Uber or Lyft come into play.”
In many situations, students, especially underage students, fear consequences of their own arrest or trouble with the University when seeking medical assistance for a friend who may have alcohol poisoning.
Fear of police involvement is the most common reason for not calling 911 during a medical emergency, and when someone in America needs medical assistance, a call for help occurs less than 50 percent of the time, according to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (FAAR).
In 2002, New Jersey joined 20 other states that adopted the “Good Samaritan" law, known as the "Lifeline Legislation." The law exempts arrest or prosecution for a victim or “good samaritan” involved in an alcohol-related incident, as an incentive for taking life saving measures for a friend or family.
The law (N.J.S.A. 2A:62A-1) states that it grants immunity from legal penalties when, “(1) an underage person calls 9-1-1 and reports that another underage person is in need of medical assistance due to alcohol consumption, (2) the underage person who called 9-1-1 provides his/her name to the 9-1-1 operator, (3) the underage person is the first person to make the 9-1-1 report, (4) the underage person who made the 9-1-1 call remains at the scene with the person under the legal age in need of medical assistance until assistance arrives and cooperates with medical assistance and law enforcement personnel on the scene," according to University policy.
The law has already saved thousands of lives, according to FAAR.
Another New Jersey law, the Overdose Prevention Act, similarly protects a person seeking medical assistance for a drug overdose.
The University Code of Student Conduct states that students who seek emergency medical attention for themselves or other students for consumption of alcohol may not be charged with violations of the Rutgers University Code of Conduct for such consumption.
“People can’t hesitate if they have a friend that seems like they’re in need of medical attention out of fear of getting in trouble with either the police or the school, because at the end of the day, you don’t want a tragedy to occur, you want everyone to be alright … At the end of the day, it’s important that everyone is safe and healthy,” Fischer said.