Increased security underlies festivities

FAMU police officials will be keeping tabs on more than just security this year; they will also have their eyes on potential ticket scalpers and seat-stealers.

“With homecoming being a very festive occasion, it’s typical for students individually to get out of hand,” FAMU Police Sgt. Norman Rollin said. “We are prepared to shift those individuals all the way to the Leon County Jail if we have to.”

The Tallahassee Police Department, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and Barkley Security will help the overcrowding problem this homecoming, Rollin said.

Stadium seating is high on the overcrowding agenda for officials, said the officer in charge of security. Since homecoming brings in more people for the game, general seating is added to the west side of the stadium, which is usually reserved. The change often leads to people sitting in the wrong seats on the west side.

Dalvin Sutton, 19, said he plans to come to the stands early to find a place where he and his friends will be able to sit together, though they did not get their tickets on the same day.

“Last year I was on the (west) side and somebody took my seat,” said the sophomore from Miami.

“I’m going to try to get there on time because I’m worried that security will not be able to help me get the right seat,” Sutton said.

Rollin said the east side of the stadium is still general seating during homecoming, with the band and the boxed seating in the front of the stadium being the only reserved sections.

Meanwhile, the nation is still struck with terror. The Washington area sniper shot 13 people before any arrests were made, and the country is still wondering if and when President Bush will decide to take military action on Iraq.

Sutton, however, doesn’t think a terrorist attack is likely during FAMU’s largest festivity of the year.

“Not here in Tallahassee,” Sutton said. “There are too many people having too much fun to worry about terrorism.”

Security officials do not believe terrorism to be a major concern either. Rollin said he is more concerned with ticket scalping and drivers who stop on the railroad tracks.

“One of the major problems is the infrastructure around the stadium, more so this year because of Gamble Street being closed” Rollin said.

To make sure drivers are safe, Rollin said he will be contacting Amtrak and other officials to ensure drivers don’t stop on the railroad tracks during traffic back ups.

“As far as terrorism is concerned, though, it’s probably not going to be a big priority. This is more domestic, not foreign,” Rollin said.

FAMU, however, is no stranger to domestic disturbances. Rollin said there have been bombings on campus in the past five years; an attack he said no other historically black institution in the nation has faced.

“With FAMU being the largest historically black school, we tend to have the kingpin of things going wrong,” Rollin said.

Rollin did say that recent additions to the normal security routine are the increased number of officers on duty during the game and bag inspections at the stadium.

There are usually anywhere between 60 to 100 officers on duty during regular football games. This number has usually been enough to handle the large homecoming crowds, but it will increase, Rollin said, especially after last year’s terrorist attacks.

This added security has added to the expenses of the FAMU police department, Rollins said, but it is a price it is willing to pay.

In addition, women can expect their purses to be inspected before they walk into the stadium.

“Barkley Security will be inspecting the bags,” Rollin said, “so don’t bring any food.”