This week, Florida A&M’s homecoming is expected to attract hordes of visitors. But, with a surge of outsiders in the city and on the campus comes increased law enforcement.
“Our main goal is to ensure that the entire homecoming week, with all its festivities, is enjoyed by all its participants free from the victimization of crime,” said FAMU Police Chief Calvin Ross.
Approximately 50,000-60,000 people will visit Tallahassee for homecoming. That number includes the anticipated attendance for the football game, which is expected to be 40,000 strong and the most crowded event of the week.
FAMUPD’s preparations for homecoming vary from year to year. Ross said that changes are made to the university’s response plan based on information and “lessons learned” from previous year’s events.
“Another factor that plays into the development of a safety plan is current crime trends in the area,” said Ross.
Different from normal procedures, FAMUPD officers will be working overtime to allow for a greater police presence during the more congested week. They will also be working throughout the week in conjunction with the Florida Highway Patrol, Tallahassee Police Department, Leon County Sheriff’s Office, Leon County Emergency Medical Services, Tallahassee Fire Department, Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, and private security guards.
TPD and FAMUPD will coordinate, develop a strategy and finalize plans ensuring that all safety measures are addressed.
“FAMU homecoming is our largest event, as it attracts the most people,” said David Northway a spokesman for the Tallahassee Police Department. “We’ve been doing this for over 20 years and each year the events are becoming safer.”
Both TPD and the LCSO will be increasing the number of officers on duty, especially at more crowded events. LCSO will utilize off-duty officers for security at events and at the Governor’s Square Mall. TPD will assist with traffic direction. FAMU students are optimistic about their safety.
“Why should I be concerned? I feel like I’m protected,” said Brill Mose, a 20-year-old biology student. Traffic will be rerouted during events that draw large amounts of pedestrian traffic, with priority given to pedestrians.
Traffic control will be directed by officers and through digital message boards indicating road closures and detour routes.
During the football game on Saturday, traffic on the main roadways surrounding Bragg Memorial Stadium will be restricted. Wahnish Way and Perry Street will also be closed at various times throughout the week to accommodate the increase in pedestrian traffic. “My biggest concern is individuals who infiltrate such festive occasions for the purpose of committing criminal acts and preying on the unsuspecting and vulnerable,” said Ross.