Police say crowd at celebration in city streets was well-behaved

Published: Saturday, January 10, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 9, 2009 at 11:02 p.m.

The thousands who took to the streets to celebrate the latest national championship for the Gator Nation were generally well-behaved and genuinely wanted to celebrate, police said Friday.

"The behavior here was mostly celebratory instead of criminally based," said University of Florida Police Department Capt. Jeff Holcomb. "Everyone maintained self-control fairly well."

UPD officers issued five alcohol violations, primarily notices to appear in court for carrying an open container of alcohol. An exception was an out-of-town reveler who was arrested for jumping up and down on a UPD patrol car.

"He had to be arrested for criminal mischief," Holcomb said.

Gainesville Police spokeswoman Summer Hallett said her agency also had a limited arrest report.

"We made five arrests. Probably the most serious was a felony for battery on a law enforcement officer," Hallett said. "We also had two small fires, five medical emergencies ranging from someone splitting their head open to people getting cuts on their feet from stepping on broken glass."

Overall, Hallett said, the crowd seemed to be able to take care of itself.

"This crowd knew when it was time to go home. The crowd thinned out on its own between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m.," Hallett said. "By about 3 a.m. the concrete barricades had been removed and the street sweepers were already at work."

Holcomb agreed that the approximately 28,000 people who turned out to rejoice in the national championship were a fairly well-behaved group. Other than some who insisted on climbing light poles and trees to then jump into the crowd, few truly dangerous stunts were seen.

"It seems like we are creating a culture now of how to have these celebrations, kind of like our fans knowing that we don't take the field after a football win," Holcomb said. "Our officers said there were a lot of high-fives between the community and law enforcement and this was a lot like the other celebrations we have had for the teams. Everyone maintained control very well."

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