Central New York, Crime

DPS Handles Crowds during Syracuse’s Upset Win over Clemson

NCC News' Chris Thomsen talked with Chief of Safety Bobby Maldonado about his department's plan for the Clemson game, including the field storming and parties across campus afterwards.

By Chris Thomsen

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — While Syracuse’s win over No. 2 Clemson may have been a Friday night for the ages, it was just another routine evening for Department of Public Safety officers on Syracuse University’s campus.

According to DPS Chief Bobby Maldonado, more than 100 officers (including additional forces from the Syracuse Police Department and the Onondaga County Sheriff’s office) helped control a crowd of over 40,000 fans as they partied before, during and after Friday night’s game. It wasn’t just the largest crowd of the football season: it was the most officers DPS had on-duty during a game day this year.

“It’s really consistent with the population, like what kinds of crowds do we have?” Maldonado said.

In his postgame press conference, Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey asked media members to raise their hands if they thought the Orange would defeat the Tigers. If Maldonado had been in the room, he would’ve been the only one with his hand in the air: it’s his job to plan for a victory – and a potential field storming.

While professional teams and some universities prohibit attendees from stepping onto the turf, no matter what, DPS officers and Carrier Dome staffers allow fans to take the field…if the game calls for it.

“Even from a practical standpoint, can you stop 40,000 fans?” Maldonado said. “And I think when you try to stop that from occurring, then the potential exists that students or fans could potentially be hurt.”

Everything went smoothly inside the Carrier Dome. But outside it? DPS officers relied on several groups to aid with parking lot and public area security, including Orange Watch, the Neighborhood Safety Patrol and the University Area Crime Control. Under regular circumstances, DPS would have had the manpower to do so.

And after the game, DPS responded to large student congregations, most notably at Castle Court. While the location nor the amount of people is the problem, it’s what some students choose to do while in a crowd.

“It’s one of those things where you can appreciate the students’ needs to want to celebrate and congregate,” Maldonado said. “Oftentimes, there’s a potential for problems and for injuries that occur in places like that. We do our very best to disperse that as soon as we possibly can.”

The most common injury comes from a thrown beer can or bottle, tossed by another student from a distance. Maldonado says the only way to avoid that is by staying alert – or by not going at all.

“You wonder whether or not you should be there if that’s a potential risk,” Maldonado said.

Despite some minor injuries, the night went as smoothly as possible. That’s a big win for DPS.