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Excise Police increase patrols at IU's Little 500
Updated May 5, 2013 1:06 AM | Filed under: WBIW News
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(BLOOMINGTON) - Indiana University is hosting the Little 500 this weekend, with thousands of people attending and hundreds of police officers there to make sure the party doesn't get out of hand.

There are more excise police officers out during Little 500 this year than ever before, because of a pilot program, started in February, called ICE: Intensified College Enforcement. The program is meant to keep students, especially those under 21, safe.

Beer in Bloomington, being poured out on the side of the road, is a sight across the city this weekend. It's part of a focused crackdown on underage drinking by Indiana Excise Police.

"Minor consumption, public intoxication, operating while intoxicated, those are the priorities we're looking for," said Corporal Travis Thickstun, Indiana Excise Police.

IU's Little 500 weekend has become more than a race. It's also a reason to party for many students and police want to keep them safe.

They handed out 83 citations Thursday night alone and on Friday, despite the rain, heightened enforcement brought more violations. Girls leaving a liquor store looked young to Officer Thickstun, so he pulled over their SUV.

"The reason why I stopped you guys was to check her ID on the alcohol," Thickstun said to them.

The person who bought the alcohol was of age, but the driver was not - and that's against the law.

"You have to be 21 to transport alcohol, as well," Thickstun explained.

Because neither had been drinking, they got a break.

"In lieu of writing a ticket, I'm just gonna issue them a warning," Thickstun said. "They'll just have to dump out their alcohol and I'll let them go along their way."

But then, the 23-year-old complained to the officer and said she shouldn't get in trouble, that she was old enough to buy, so it didn't matter how old the driver was. That changed Thickstun's mind, and they got tickets and their vodka had to be poured out.

A bit later, at a grocery store, officers discovered someone underage trying to use a fake ID. He told the officers he had a bad feeling it was a mistake.

"Yeah, Little 500 weekend, going to a store and trying to buy alcohol with a fake ID, not a good choice," he said.

Then, there was a car seen driving the wrong way, down a one-way street, out of a liquor store parking lot. Three of the occupants were underage.

"They had three cases of beer in the car and, obviously, some of them had already been consuming alcohol," Thickstun said.

All four were cited and all three cases of beer were dumped alongside the road. That, police say, drives the message home, as will the tickets at more than $400 each.

Students cited will also have to clean up trash around town on Sunday morning. The increased patrols will be going all weekend long.

On average, Excise Police issue about 150 citations during Little 500 weekend in Bloomington. This year, they've nearly reached that amount before Saturday's race.



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