An intoxication retaliation: Businesses employ officers

Connor Moriarty, Staff Writer Due to problems involving publicly intoxicated Oxford citizens and students, various Oxford businesses and Miami University buildings are taking extra measures to ensure safety and good behavior by employing security weekend nights. Three hot spots for late-night dining – Armstrong Student Center (ASC), Skyline Chili and Chipotle – employ Miami University Police Department (MUPD), Oxford Police Department (OPD) and private officers respectively to keep watch over their establishments on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. “These 24-hour-type food places are where everyone seems to stop after a night Uptown,” MUPD Lt. Ben Spilman said. ” present a danger to public safety.” Because of these problems, Skyline Chili, 1 E. High St., approached OPD a year ago and asked if they could hire officers part time to stand in their establishment to keep watch OPD Sgt. Jon Varley said. Skyline had been having problems with intoxicated individuals late at night. Usually, by the time Skyline makes 911 calls, OPD dispatch receives them and officers get to Skyline, situations have already escalated. So, Skyline decided to contact OPD for a more reliable form of assistance. “Intoxicated individuals are deterred from entering if there is an officer present,” Varley said. “If not, the officer will have to approach the individual if they are being hostile. They will also make the arrest if necessary.” Varley said establishments employ officers at these peak activity times to ensure the general public’s well being. “Police presence does a lot to improve the public’s feeling of safety,” Varley said. Varley said after Skyline hired an officer, he has seen a decrease in disorderly situations within. Before the officer implementation, employees did not feel 100 percent safe according to Skyline manager Israel Jones. But he said reactions to the officers have been positive. “We knew it would be a good idea, and we feel safer now,” he said. Before Skyline employed officers, Jones said intoxicated individuals were often extremely hostile, and would occasionally try to leave without paying their bill. He said issues of rowdiness in the restaurant have declined significantly. Chipotle, 1 West High Street, has tackled the same situation with a slightly different approach. According to manager Nick McKee, for about a month, Chipotle has hired security from a private company, CSI Security. They also were having constant problems with intoxicated individuals causing trouble, so they decided to control the atmosphere. “Even though we are in a college town, is a family-oriented restaurant,” McKee said. “We wanted to make sure we kept that feeling, and having security here has definitely helped.” Like Skyline, Chipotle employs their extra security Thursday through Saturday nights. Since the change, McKee has seen a significant drop in problems involving disorderly conduct. “Before we hired security, we had about six or seven problems per night,” McKee said. “But after, we see two to three at most. People behave more when there is security lurking.” Miami also hires officers for university buildings, and has done so for a long time. According to Spilman, the Shriver Center employed Miami University Police Department (MUPD) officers when it was open 24 hours. Then, when making plans for ASC, decision makers decided to keep a dedicated officer in the new space. Armstrong’s doors, as well as the interior Pulley Diner, are open 24-hours, making it a popular destination on the walk back from uptown. “Our number one concern is for the well-being for the problematic individuals and others around them,” Spilman said. “Officers present in Armstrong makes students behave and discourages them from entering the building while intoxicated.” Officers are there to make sure everyone behaves, and can make arrests if necessary. Since ASC opened, there have been instances of vomiting and vandalism. So far, there have been two such cases within ASC, including a case of vandalism Feb. 28. “The level of enforcement depends on the individual’s age, and what kind of problem they are posing,” Spilman said. Overall, the response to the implementation of officers has been positive according to Spilman, and he said there are fewer problems because of the presence of police officers.

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Oxford 5-0: Citizens step into police officers’ shoes

Connor Moriarty, For The Miami StudentStudents of the Citizens Police Academy (CPA) simulate entering a school in search of an active shooter, one of several CPA exercises. (Contributed by John Buchholz) This semester, Oxford residents and Miami Students can see Oxford Police Department (OPD) in a new light – one that is not just red and blue. The OPD is offering a police-to-community awareness program called the Citizens Police Academy (CPA) that will officially begin its 16th season this Monday. Created in 2001, the CPA offers a unique opportunity for people residing in Oxford to get a behind-the-scenes experience of what the OPD does, said OPD Community and Business Outreach Officer John Buchholz. ” is an opportunity to reach out to the community and to engage them,” he said. “It allows citizens to know a little more about the police, and for the police to know a little about the citizens.” After his service in the military and a 30-year career in law enforcement, Buchholz tackled the task of taking over leadership of the CPA in his retirement. “I work more now than I did before I was retired, but I love it,” he said. His main job is to build a closer relationship between the police of Oxford, and its citizens. According to Buchholz, it offers a chance for citizens to ask and learn about the local law enforcement and for police to learn more about community needs and concerns. And the officers can benefit just as much as citizens from their involvement in the program, Buchholz said. “The police don’t solve crimes, citizens solve crimes. They’re the ones who see everything, and they’re the ones who know everyone. We just piece it together,” Buchholz said. “If the police aren’t unintimidating enough for the citizens to trust us, then we are never going to get anything done.” Ideally, Buchholz wants nothing more than for the CPA members to graduate from the academy with not only a better sense of what the OPD is doing, but also with the feeling like they can better communicate with the police. “I’ve had skeptics join the class who weren’t too fond of law enforcement, only to return the next year because of how much they loved it,” he said. But the CPA is not limited to verbal communication. One of the many unique qualities of the academy is that members are immersed into the daily lives of police officers, firefighters and various other law enforcement officers. According to Buchholz, every week CPA members are given the opportunity to do what the OPD does and to experience it first-hand. In past CPA sessions, citizens have participated in fingerprinting, cop car ride-alongs, shooting weapons at the firing range, meeting a K-9 unit and putting on S.W.A.T. gear to hunt down a fake gunman in a local high school. “Every session is different from the last, and no two years are ever the same,” Buchholz said. “CPA members are certainly exposed to many once-in-a- lifetime experiences.” The CPA also hosts guest speakers. Past speakers include police officers, detectives and coroners. OPD Chief of Police Bob Holzworth has been affiliated with the CPA for many years, and though he was hesitant about it at first, he now supports it wholeheartedly. “At first I believed the academy to be an use of our resources, but fortunately now that I’m over 60, I have an easier time admitting when I’m wrong,” he said. “The academy is just wonderful.” Holzworth said he would recommend the academy to anyone and he is sure anyone would love it and get something out of the experience. Returning CPA member Debbie Vogt cannot stress enough how valuable the academy has been for her. She said just knowing what goes on behind the scenes of Oxford is the most important thing she got out of it. Vogt, though, joined the academy with slightly different intentions than most. After she was invited to join the CPA at the fall “Welcome Back” community pig roast, she agreed to join in order to be an informed parent. “Raising high school kids in a college town, it’s important for me to know what the city is like,” Vogt said. “Obviously Oxford at 2 a.m. is a different city than at 8 p.m., so I wanted my kids to know that I knew what went on, which would hopefully keep them on the good side of the law.” Vogt, along with the many other CPA members, has a long list of memorable stories to share her experiences throughout the years. “During a ride-along I asked the cop to pull into the Kroger parking lot where I knew my son hung out with his friends,” she said. “I’ll never forget the look on his face as he saw his Mom pull up in a cop car.” Vogt shared many of her favorite experiences while participating in the CPA. These included shooting pistols at the firing range, marching through a high school in S.W.A.T. gear looking for a gunman, and doing sobriety test on actual intoxicated people. To her, though, these stories do not even crack the surface of what the academy is like. Vogt said what is most valuable to her is the respect she has earned for the police over her years in the CPA. “After experiencing what the police do, I have gained so much respect for what they have to do and the danger that they’re in,” she said. Buchholz said he loves how the class currently is, and hopes to continue it this way for years to come. The first official session of the year is Monday, Feb. 24 and the academy is only open to 20 people.

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Cold front chills Oxford businesses

Connor Moriarty, For The Miami Student Piles of icy snow lining the streets are all that is left to show for the record cold temperatures Oxford experienced last month that forced people to stay indoors and not go Uptown. This record-cold winter has called for Ohioans to adapt in many ways, but the subzero weather is causing even the most popular Oxford businesses to suffer. Throughout the month of January, most of the country saw record-low temperatures, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Columbus reached -7 degrees Fahrenheit, two degrees lower than the previous record, and Cleveland reached -12 degrees Fahrenheit, five degrees lower than the previous record. “To some, it’s just too cold to go outside to walk to class or to go Uptown,” first-year journalism major Alex Abboud said. “Facing the cold is just not worth going Uptown.” But the cold has affected more than just Miami students’ nightlives. Local businesses say there has been a noticeable drop in sales this winter due to the lower temperatures, causing a lack of Uptown traffic. Manager of 45 East Bar and Grill Jeremiah Robuck said sales have been a bit down this winter, which could be attributed to the weather. “People just seem to be going out less,” Robuck said. “The cold makes going outside a lot less appealing.” But Robuck said he thinks it is hard to tell if the weather alone is the reason sales are down. He said he suspects the polar vortex hitting Oxford immediately after Winter Term makes for a bad combination. Various businesses lining High Street also noticed less traffic and fewer sales, including popular shops, such as The Apple Tree, Dubois Bookstore and Orange Leaf. Dubois Bookstore employee Ramona Gray was surprised to see how few people came in and out of the store throughout January. “I would think that with the cancelled classes we would see more business, but we didn’t,” Gray said. Even chain restaurants stationed in Oxford saw a significant drop in revenue throughout the colder-than-normal days, including Skyline Chili, which was forced to close during the coldest days. “When it got really cold, we didn’t see much business, and it just wasn’t safe to try to travel to work, so we closed,” Skyline’s Oxford branch manager Connie Flannely said. To draw customers back into their establishments, various businesses utilize special marketing strategies to make buying their product worth the walk through the cold. Orange Leaf, for example, stays up-to-date with their Facebook page and offers ‘Happy Hour’ deals according to employee Miranda Kappes. Perhaps the most common marketing strategy seen Uptown is showing Oxford residents what to look forward to: spring. While walking down High Street, one can see countless poster boards and display windows showing offers and previews for Valentine’s Day and the warmer spring months. Apple Tree employee Lisa Wespiser said she likes to warm up the colder months for everyone by keeping spring in their thoughts. ” likes to decorate the display windows with spring attire and decorations to give us something to look forward to through during the coldest time of the year,” Wespiser said. A fortunate few Oxford businesses have seen an increase in attendance and sales due to the cold. Brick Street employee Nick Pasquale said the recent subzero weather has pushed even more people to come to the bar, especially for their famous 90s Night. “People have been stuck inside because of the muggy weather so I think they just take the night as a time to get out,” Pasquale said. “Plus, the weather won’t slow the attendance for 90s Night.” Delivery services across Oxford especially have seen a change in business this last month. Papa Johns, for example, has seen a noticeable spike in delivery orders, according to Manager Colton Huesing. “Papa Johns’ policy is to stay open up until a level three weather advisory, so we were open for the mass amounts of deliveries that were called in,” Huesing said. According to Huesing, her and fellow co-workers just wish they could see an increase in delivery tips as well during these rare weather circumstances. “We are risking our safety by driving in this weather, and it would be nice for students to show that they appreciate that,” she said. Luckily, according to The Old Farmers Almanac, the worst of the cold days are behind us, and we can look forward to the warmer spring months.

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