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High School Fans Drunk at Game Sent Home

Bridgewater-Raritan to crack down on drinking at football games

Published: Wednesday, September 28, 2011  By Warren Cooper/Somerset Messenger-Gazette

After drunken football fans were forced to leave the last Bridgewater-Raritan High School game, school officials plan to crack down on students drinking at home games.

Superintendent Michael Schilder told the school board Tuesday night, that a number of students were “quite intoxicated” at the Sept. 16 game against Westfield. Bridgewater police officers intervened by telling them to call their parents to pick them up and take them home.

They won’t be so lenient in the future.

Schilder said students have been drinking in the parking lot before home games — and sometimes in the stands during the game. “It’s happening,” he said. “It’s happening a lot.”

As a result, Bridgewater police have decided to change their approach.

According to Schilder, it is illegal for anyone, of drinking age or not, to consume alcohol — or even “possess” it — on school property without prior approval of the school board. Police, Schilder told the board, have a legal obligation to take into custody students who are caught drinking, and charge them with disorderly conduct. They’ll observe that obligation in the future.

In the past, the district has hired five police officers to cover home football games. Beginning with the next home game, Thursday, Oct. 6, against Immaculata High School, an additional officer will patrol the parking lot before and during the game, Schilder told the board, on the lookout for students drinking. That officer will come to the high school an hour earlier than the others, he said, at 5 p.m. The game begins at 7 p.m.

“It’s really needed,” Schilder told the board. “We can’t just look the other way. We have to step up our vigilance in terms of discouraging this from happening.”

Prior to the Immaculata game, Schilder said, Principal Lew Ludwig will email high school students and their parents about the problem — and explain the more aggressive response planned by the district and the police. In addition, Athletic Director John Maggio is to inform the athletic directors of all Bridgewater-Raritan’s opponents of the district’s new policy.

The school board discussed the possibility of erecting signs at the stadium and in the parking lot detailing the policy on school property, but no decision was made.

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