After North Carolina's victory over Duke on Feb. 1, the 100 block of Franklin Street was swamped with UNC fans, who started unauthorized bonfires and participated in vandalism, forcing officials to review their procedures for handling the revelers this weekend.
During the last celebration, an overturned car prompted questions about whether more can be done to ensure safety. Some feel that there should be an increase in safety precautions by students and officials, but the Chapel Hill police and fire departments plan to utilize the same basic game plan they have in the past. "There are no major changes, but we have tweaked our protocol since the last game," Chapel Hill Police Chief Gregg Jarvies said.
This time, 35 officers will be strategically positioned on Franklin Street, Jarvies said. That is an increase from the last Duke game, when 25 officers were on hand. Officers will not have any drastic changes to their assignments from last time, but will be more spread out to allow them to canvas a larger area.
Deputy Fire Chief Robert Bosworth said the fire department also will continue to follow plans it used for the last Duke game. "Our plans for Sunday will be the same as they were last time," he said.
Bosworth said there will be two teams on foot with fire extinguishers to help make sure any bonfires do not get out of control. Another team on bikes will be there if anyone needs first-aid and also will have small extinguishers for emergencies.
A large truck will be near East Franklin and Henderson streets just in case any of the bonfires get out of hand, Bosworth said.
Jarvies said cars parked on Franklin Street will not be towed, even though fans flipped a car during the last celebration.
Because the game will be played on Sunday afternoon, the traffic on Franklin Street will be heavier than usual, he said. Many of the churches in the area need extra parking spaces so their members will be able to attend services. The large number of cars would make it hard to tow them from the area, Jarvies said.
"You reach a threshold where if you decide to tow cars, you will have to utilize 135 people rather than the 35 that will be used," he said.
Jarvies said the most important component for a safer celebration is that the fans police themselves and celebrate more responsibly.
Bosworth said he did not think the UNC student body was very proud of its behavior the last time and that he fully expects the celebration to be much more controlled this time than last time.
"When Carolina wins, I have confidence that the fans will behave, and the night will be a celebration like it is supposed to be." The City Editor can be reached at email@example.com.
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