Collective efforts reduce arrest rates at Nelly concert

By Melissa Proulx
On April 22, 2014

Even with more than 4,000 students in attendance, Nelly's concert on Thursday, April 17, proved to be calm in comparison to those in the past.

"There were 26 arrests for the concert, predominately for alcohol related issues," Paul Dean, executive director of safety and UNH police chief, said.

Dean also said that four people were taken to the hospital for alcohol related issues, but "other than that it was well run by SCOPE and was very quiet" and that these numbers were "very low compared to past concerts."

Bill Cote, executive director of McGregor Memorial EMS, confirmed these numbers, saying the night was, in fact, much different from other concerts in the past.

"We had six ambulances that were full staffed with volunteers. We dedicated some of those to the concert and the rest of those were used to handle other calls in town," he said. "If you could compare it to the Kendrick Lamar [concert], it was definitely much more docile, we certainly weren't as busy as we were then."

The reason for these low numbers, according to those involved, can be attributed to the many precautionary steps taken in both the weeks and hours before the concert.

An email was sent to students earlier this month warning against mass gatherings due to the unsafe environment that it causes, and its potential consequences if someone is arrested during one.

"Please know that staff from the Office of Conduct and Mediation will be at the Nelly concert and will file conduct charges against any student who is arrested at the concert," Dean wrote in the e-mail, which went on to say that students arrested in connection with mass gatherings would be suspended for either a short or long period of time.

Dean also credits the tame atmosphere to the good intentions of the students who attended the concert and the groups in charge of putting the concert together.

"It is clear the vast majority of the concert-goers in attendance were there to enjoy the artist and celebrate responsibly," he said. "The collaborative planning by SCOPE and student senate leadership with campus office's responsible for managing the concert was evident throughout the night."

For many of the leaders of SCOPE, the group that organizes and runs all of the concerts each year, the same positive feelings were shared about the night.

"Even though the arrest numbers for Kendrick were lower than past concerts, we still weren't satisfied and made it our duty to gear our efforts by making these numbers as small as possible," said Christina Merrill, the new publicity director of SCOPE. "Because many arrests for Kendrick were in the very beginning of the night we put a lot of focus in reconstructing out line setup this time to try and be as orderly as possible right from the get go."

In order to do this, Merrill said the group made sure to open the doors right on time and also, with the help of UNH's Health Services and the local Dominos, served free pizza and water to concert goers in order to help prevent over-intoxication.

Though every artist brought to campus must be approved in order to ensure they won't create a risky environment, Merrill hopes that this success can be mirrored in the future.

"We are very excited to move forward with planning our next concert since we have found many tools to help ensure our shows will be fun and safe for any artist we may bring," she said.

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