Cedar Falls police will try a new method of crowd control this weekend during homecoming festivities. Police Chief Rick Ahlstrom says they’ll use rubber water-filled barricades in sections that’re that’re three-feet high and eight feet long to control the movement of people in the college hill area near campus. He says they’re developing a 125-foot-by-12-foot rectangular barricade to take up some space in the 2200 block of College street. Ahlstrom says they’re trying to keep the street open once everyone spills into the area that includes bars and restaurants.
He says the crowd size has gotten so large and unmanageable that they became concerned about getting a fire truck or ambulance into the area. He says too many people gather in the small area. He says the fire chief esitmated the crowd in the one block alone at 45-hundred to five -thousand people, and he says that impairs their ability to operate. Ahlstrom says one of his officers came up with the idea for using the barricades during a meeting last year to discuss the large crowds at homecoming. He says the water-filled barricades were purchased by the public works department for around $15,000. He says the portable barricades give them the ability to use them for other events, or to just close a street for construction. Ahlstrom says they hope the barricades will head off problems that cropped up during past celebrations. He says the riot in 1996 was an eye opener and they’ve taken steps to try and minimize that. He says one thing they’ve found is that college aged kids with no link to U-N-I drive in for the homecoming event, creating the large crowds and the potential for problems. UNI’s homecoming events begin on Monday, and Friday and Saturday evening are the days when the larger nighttime crowds are expected.