TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Homecoming weekend for Indiana State University brings thousands of people from all over to Terre Haute, leaving many wondering if it’s accompanied by more crime.
“Any time you bring in thousands or tens of thousands of people into your community, things are going to go up a little bit. You’re going to have a few more accidents, maybe a few more tickets. But it’s something the Terre Haute Police Department, we plan for this a year in advance,” Sgt. Justin Sears with the Terre Haute Police Department said.
Between Friday and Sunday of homecoming weekend over the last five years, excluding 2020 because of COVID-19, the number of calls made for service and arrests made are as follows:
- 2018: 331 calls for service, 21 arrests made.
- 2019: 339 calls for service, 24 arrests made.
- 2021: 286 calls for service, 25 arrests made.
- 2022: 267 calls for service, 25 arrests made.
- 2023: 337 calls for service, 30 arrests made.
To put that into perspective, Sears said on a normal weekend, THPD would receive between 200-300 calls for service.
On Saturday, October 21 of this year, shots were fired into a large crowd in a dance hall at the AMVET building in West Terre Haute, which injured two people.
The Sheriff’s Office confirmed the victims were not from Vigo County or ISU students.
“We’re having people come from St. Louis, Chicago, Indianapolis, for these big parties that are being promoted, and they’re not necessarily tied to homecoming all the time,” Sgt. Sears said.
George Azar is the owner of the Saratoga Restaurant on Wabash Avenue, and they participate in “The Walk” every year.
He said although it often gets a bad wrap, they’ve never had an issue.
“We’ve always had a good turnout. The kids are great, actually, they’re very polite if you want to know the truth and we welcome them. We think it’s great, it’s a good thing. As long as there’s not one or two troublemakers, then everything goes great,” Azar said.
Sgt. Sears said a city ordinance approved in 2018 made a special events permit required for any event that has music or dancing permitted. He said this has alleviated some of the issues police have seen with large parties.
“It kept people from being able to rent out, or rent places and have parties that weren’t necessarily safe which we were seeing as a trend here locally and nationally,” Sgt. Sears said.
Sgt. Sears said THPD will continue to add more patrols and adjust as needed each year, as ISU’s homecoming festivities continue to evolve.
If you would like to see more details about obtaining a special events permit, requirements, and possible violation penalties, you can do so by clicking here.