TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Tuscaloosa police say they are just as eager as the rest of Alabama for the start of football season, but officers say they’re already seeing overcrowding and open containers on The Strip.
While it may be a prime spot to cheer on the Crimson Tide, this weekend, Tuscaloosa police warn those spotted loitering will be cited.
Tuscaloosa Police Department’s weekend detail on The Strip say, for the past two weeks, they have seen more and more loitering and drinking on the streets. Yet, officers say revelers along University Boulevard are not solely breaking open container laws. They say people are gathering in parking lots and blocking sidewalks.
“We have a large amount of people who are coming into the area. They’re not going into any of the establishments. They’re congregating, they’re drinking, they’re bringing their own alcohol into the area and they’re setting up almost I would say, like a tailgate,” explained Tuscaloosa Police Major Heath Clark.
Major Clark says recent overcrowding has caused some businesses to close up shop for the night, citing access and safety concerns.
“Which, in our view, is unacceptable because that’s one of the reasons we do what we do is so people can come in here and make a living and have a business,” Major Clark said.
Clark said that in the last weekend, the six or so officers on The Strip were not enough.
“When you get that many people who are drinking alcohol in that close a proximity and you restrict their freedom of movement, bad things are going to happen,” said Clark.
On The Strip this weekend, the number of police on patrol will more than double, according to Clark. He says officers will also be on the look out for those under 18, out after 10 PM. Police say that’s also been a problem but some say it’s one that requires new solutions.
“The intentions are good but I think the efficiency of it and the implementation of it is going to be difficult,” said youth mentor Donnie Lee.
Lee works with at-risk youth through sports and recreation at The Lab in Tuscaloosa. He says, oftentimes, minors out late have absent parents and nothing else to do. It’s why, instead of curfew crack-downs, Lee advocates for more opportunities for young adults.
“We have to enact programs that give them something else to do, that give them alternatives,” Lee said.
Tuscaloosa Police Officers say, those minors caught breaking curfew will be taken to TPD headquarters until a parent or guardian comes to pick them up. They say they will then issue a citation to that parent or guardian.