UMass, Amherst prepping Super Bowl security

  • Two UMass Amherst police officers in riot gear arrest a young man after he dumped and threw a trashcan on UMass property outside of the Berkshire Dining commons Sunday, Jan. 4 2018. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/30/2019 8:49:35 AM

AMHERST — A year after a post-Super Bowl disturbance at the University of Massachusetts led to seven students being arrested and a number of injuries, including seven revelers who needed treatment at the hospital, university officials are trying to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself on Sunday.

UMass spokeswoman Mary Dettloff said Tuesday that an email was sent to students this week from Jean Ahlstrand MacKimmie, director of residence education, and James Meade, residence hall security manager, alerting them to changes on campus before the Super Bowl matchup between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams.

Last year, a rainy and icy evening brought out 2,000 people in the Southwest Area of the campus, where some threw bottles, refused to comply with dispersal orders and caused more than $2,500 in damage, mostly to bathrooms, after the Patriots lost the “big game” to the Philadelphia Eagles.

One of the restrictions in place will be access to dormitories. Starting at noon Sunday and running through 8 a.m. Monday, students who live on campus will be able to sign in up to four fellow students from the same residential area to their dorms, but not from another area of the campus or from off campus. Security desks will also be staffed starting at noon that day.

In addition, Student Life also posted on its health and safety page that “during Super Bowl weekend, if circumstances impacting safety and security dictate, the guest policy may be further adjusted to ensure our campus remains a healthy, safe and secure environment. These adjustments include reserving the right to curtail or end guest registration by building or residential area.”

Amherst Fire Chief Walter “Tim” Nelson said his department will be using the modified safety protocol that was in place during the World Series last fall. When the deciding fifth game ended on a Sunday evening, with the Boston Red Sox winning the championship, 2,000 revelers were outside the Southwest residential towers, but largely peaceful and celebratory.

“Because we know this is coming, we’ll be prepared,” Nelson said.

Beginning at 5 p.m. Sunday, more than an hour before kickoff, the department will have 13 firefighters on duty, and all five ambulances in service. That is the usual strength on a Friday and Saturday night in the early fall and spring.

In addition, Nelson and Assistant Chiefs Jeffrey Olmstead and Lindsay Stromgren will all be working, with one stationed at the emergency operations center at UMass, another embedded with UMass police officers and a third acting as a floater to respond to any incidents on campus or off.

Nelson said Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton has been notified about the possible influx of patients, and the department’s mutual aid partners are prepared, as well. Last year, five other agencies – Northampton, Easthampton, Belchertown, South Hadley District #1 and South County in South Deerfield – assisted with calls in Amherst during the Super Bowl.

Maintaining sufficient strength is important, Nelson said, as it is likely other medical calls away from the campus will need to be handled, elsewhere in Amherst or in Pelham, Shutesbury and Leverett.

“Hopefully the game goes the way we want it to and hopefully nothing gets out of hand,” Nelson said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

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