This Little 500 season will be no different from that of past years. Not only will fans be greeted with drinking specials but officers brought in to directly combat their consumption.
Indiana State Excise Police are a waste of tax dollars, and the money spent on their operations could be better diverted to more pressing concerns during Little 500 keeping watch.
During Little 500, numerous police forces flock to the areas immediately surrounding Bill Armstrong Stadium. Attendees are not only under the watch of Bloomington PD or IUPD, but state troopers and Excise police will also be on patrol.
For out-of-state individuals, a natural question would be: What are Excise police, and what purpose do they serve?
According to the Indiana State Excise Police website, it is “the law enforcement division of the Alcohol & Tobacco Commission. State Excise police officers are empowered by statute to enforce the laws and rules of the Alcohol & Tobacco Commission as well as the laws of the State of Indiana.”
Basically, Excise police will work alongside other police forces to promote safe behavior, hand out drinking citations and help direct individuals toward the Monroe County Prosecutor for a Pretrial Diversion Program. Additionally, there's a process where people facing trial can pay a fee, this year $549, and complete community service and drug and alcohol education classes to get minor cases dismissed.
Another consideration is the continued fall in drinking citations through the years. Just last year, there were only 102 tickets given out during the weekend — a Little 500 all-time low.
Indiana State Excise Police were certainly necessary at those points, but it’s hard to argue that their role can’t be fulfilled by the other forces on duty this week. If we bring an additional police force in to handle drinking, then we should have other officers pay greater attention to other more egregious crimes during Little 500.
It’s no secret that every year thousands of ambiguous attendees come to Bloomington for “The World’s Greatest College Weekend” or the festivities surrounding it. With such a heralded billing, it is surprising to few that these individuals frequently tear up the town, and then book it.
From 2013 to 2017, theft, vandalism or lost property accounted for 53% of all crime during Little 500. Stolen or damaged property will have a much longer lasting effect on individuals than getting drunk.
As well, assault crimes have fluctuated throughout the years, but continually occur much more often than one would like to see. These are occurrences that Bloomington residents care more about than public intoxication.
Excise police have also come into question surrounding large events. It’s not uncommon for drinking citations to surpass 100 during the Indy 500, let alone the much smaller race here in Bloomington.
Events that are already covered by multiple departments, where we expect people to drink, shouldn’t be treated as open season for passing out citations.
Excise police, while effective at completing the job they are tasked with, could do a greater service this week by focusing more on crimes that could hurt party-goers much more than having “a bit too much”.