Johnson County Sheriff Worries About New Univ. of Iowa Tailgating Rules
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — New, stricter tailgating rules at the University of Iowa have the local sheriff worried that his jail might become full with an influx of inmates on Hawkeye gamedays.
Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek recalls a 2006 night home football game against Ohio State, which Iowa lost.
"The jail got to some dangerous levels of inmates," Pulkrabek said.
Now, Pulkrabek has similar concerns about gameday jail capacity when the university cracks down on excessive drinking at Hawkeye football games this fall. The sheriff said the heightened approach to lawbreaking could mean more inmates at the jail on Saturdays.
"I'm not real thrilled with it," Pulkrabek said Thursday. "The university appears to be a little narrow sighted on it."
On Monday, university officials unveiled the "Think Before You Drink" campaign. Officials said police working around the stadium will step up enforcement of open container, public urination and underage drinking laws. In addition, the university now is putting a stop to drinking in campus parking ramps and lots one hour after the game is over and halting all tailgating activities after two hours.
The university on Thursday clarified the end of the game to mean when the stadium is "substantially empty."
Police also will set up checkpoints after games to look for drunken drivers.
It remains to be seen how the increased enforcement will affect the jail.
"We're just trying to figure out how it's going to impact us," Pulkrabek said.
Home football games always have meant extra steps at the jail. With 80 to 90 inmates already housed out of county, the jail makes additional room for gamedays by shipping even more inmates out of the county, the cost of which is passed on to Johnson County taxpayers.
Pulkrabek said in past years, he housed an additional 15 to 20 inmates out of county. This year, he's ramping it up to 30.
Johnson County taxpayers have to pay $3,000 to $4,000 extra per weekend when the university has large home football games, the sheriff said.
Pulkrabek said the sheriff's office is developing a comprehensive plan for the jail to follow on gamedays.
The plan could allow for "trigger points" to occur when the jail population gets to a certain point, at which time the jail could start turning away anyone charged with a simple misdemeanor. Eventually, jail staff could tell police they are out of space and direct them to transport incoming inmates to the Washington or Linn county jails. The sheriff's office still will have to pick them up to bring them to court.
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