Police are delivering an increased presence around the University of Akron campus in response to last weekend’s “Sumner Fest” melee.
UA and Akron police officers beefed up patrols Friday night along residential streets surrounding the campus. A similar show of strength is scheduled through the weekend.
The special, overtime police deployment comes after a house party on Sumner Street erupted into a near riot early Sunday morning when drunken revelers hurled bottles and cans at officers and tipped over a car.
Afterward, UA and city police officials met and crafted a response plan designed to quell potential rowdiness.
Eileen Korey, UA’s associate vice president for communications and chief communications officer, said the two departments will be working together this weekend. An unspecified number of UA officers, some being paid overtime, will be working the detail throughout the weekend, she said.
“We will have a heightened police presence on and around campus,” Korey said in an email. “UAPD and APD are working closely together to cover the territory.”
Last Saturday night and early Sunday, a crowd along the 400 block of Sumner Street swelled to more than 1,000. When police arrived to silence the ruckus, many among the throng greeted officers by throwing beer bottles and cans. The crowd also vandalized a parked car, eventually tipping over the vehicle.
Eventually, about 50 city and UA officers donned riot gear and used tear gas to disperse the drunken crowd.
The party was an apparent offshoot of “Sumner Fest,” an annual, unofficial celebration loosely organized by UA students to mark the start of fall classes. It is named after Sumner Street, a residential street that runs south of campus off East Exchange Street.
To avoid a repeat of last weekend’s troubles, city officers will be working a special detail around the southern edge of campus. As many as nine officers will be paid overtime wages. These officers will be in addition to those already scheduled to work the weekend.
Police will be paying close attention to house parties that spill out into front yards and the street, police Lt. Rick Edwards said.
“You will see a more visible presence,” he said. “They’re specifically watching for parties to make sure they don’t get out of hand.”
Police have yet to announce any arrests in connection with last weekend’s disturbance. On Tuesday, they released photos and a video of the car-tipping incident in an effort to identify the scofflaws.
It is unclear if the increased police response will be as striking as those made to fend off the rowdiness around “May Day,” an annual, end-of-school celebration at UA and other colleges.
During the 1990s, May Day parties around the UA campus took on Animal House dimensions with couch burnings, beer-bottle tossing and struggles with police.
At its peak in 2000, police made 130 arrests in one night for drunken behavior during the street parties.
The city and university responded with an army of officers, who patrolled the college neighborhood to ensure that revelers remained indoors. As a result, the parties took on a snooze-fest atmosphere and arrests dwindled to less than two dozen.
“It’s dead,” Edwards said of May Day.