177 people ticketed between Thursday and Sunday

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Indiana Daily Student on 4/17/2016 by Sarah Gardner

lil51On a warm, clear Saturday night after the men’s Little 500 race, two naked college students were having sex on a couch on the front lawn of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity house. Though they were surrounded by broken lawn chairs and within sight of the students on Phi Gamma Delta’s homemade sand volleyball court, they did not seem to notice or care.

 Elsewhere in Bloomington, lines outside bars and ATMs spilled into the streets, collisions of drunken students nearly resulted in fistfights, and people from out of town asked over and over again if anybody knew how to get to Kilroy’s Sports Bar.

Tables were turned over in yards. Shirtless students nearly fell over trying to climb into Showalter Fountain. Beer cans, Solo cups, lost cell phones, driver’s licenses and condoms littered the sidewalks.

Jake Braunecker, a 28-year-old guitarist, was still playing music on the steps of the courthouse at 12:15 a.m. Sunday.

“The volume of money people give me during Little Five goes way up just because of the sheer quantity of people,” Braunecker said. “But the way people party in this city gets really gross really fast. There’s just some all-consuming desire in these people to get completely, totally shitfaced.”

Sirens wailed all night long. Inevitably, some of the partygoers were ticketed for illegal possession and consumption, mostly due to underage drinking. One-hundred-seventy-seven people were ticketed between Thursday and Sunday, community corrections director Tom Rhodes said.

Though this is more than the 110 tickets of last year, the number is down from the yearly average of about 220 tickets, Rhodes said.

“The weather was so delightful. We were anticipating about 250 to 300 tickets, so it’s a little better than what we were expecting,” Rhodes said. “One year we had 440 tickets, and after that we beefed up the law enforcement, so this is relatively calm in comparison to that year.”

The IU Police Department, Bloomington Police Department, other nearby local agencies, state police and excise all come to Bloomington to help with Little 500 weekend, Rhodes said. IUPD alone arrested 33 people during the weekend, IUPD Capt. Andy Stephenson said.

Because there are so many low-level offenders from out of town, the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office offers an abbreviated version of the pretrial diversion program for Little 500 weekend, Monroe County prosecutor Chris Gaal said.

Each offender must show up at the Monroe County Justice Building at 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning, pay a $428 fee, do community service for the city all afternoon and attend a marijuana and alcohol education class in the evening.

If they choose to not accept the pretrial diversion offer, they take their chances in court. If they accept the offer, but do not want to complete it all at once Sunday, they must perform more community service and take a longer class. But if an offender accepts the offer, their charges are dismissed, Gaal said.

When they arrived at the Justice Building, many of the offenders were not dressed for the occasion. The students from out of town hadn’t expected to dress for court this weekend. They sat down in a courtroom in front of a screen that read, in bold print, “YOU have been charged with a crime.”

They listened to a 20-minute presentation on what would happen if they accepted the offer. They listened to pretrial diversion program director Jeremy Cooney ask them to stay out of trouble for the next year.

“You’re not exactly on probation,” Cooney said. “But the bottom line is that we want you to move on with your lives.”

Employees like Cooney from the prosecutor’s office had been in the building since before 4 a.m. to process all the tickets and paperwork still rolling in, Gaal said. He called it a “big production.”

They filed out of the courtroom to pay their fees. After that, they were immediately sent off to Bill Armstrong Stadium to clean up the trash left behind after the race, each equipped with a pair of white gardening gloves and an industrial-size black trash bag.

“This is kind of sad,” one student said, staring at the bleachers full of bottles, cans and popcorn boxes.

“This looks like a tarp,” said another, crawling underneath the bleachers. “Is this even supposed to be thrown out? What do I do with this?”

Another student just walked from row to row, saying, “If my mom finds out about this, I’m done for.”

One student looked at the probation officer supervising the group. “I swear we’re not actually bad people,” she said.