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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Salisbury Police Prepare for "Zero Tolerance" Weekend

SALISBURY, Md.- The clash between some Salisbury University students and Salisbury Police continues, following the use of pepper spray to control crowds at an off-campus party Saturday. Now, local law enforcement are gearing up for what is expected to be an even bigger weekend.
Police are saying their "zero tolerance" policy will be in full force.
Last weekend, it was the crowd of an estimated 1,500 at the "New Zoo" apartments -- a party for the "War on the Shore" lacrosse game at SU. This weekend, it is expected to be 30,000 people, for the annual Salisbury Festival downtown.
That, plus another likely lacrosse game and talk of a "War on the Shore 2" party, has police and students on high alert.
Wednesday, we spoke with one group of sophomores that was at Saturday's party. One of them, Kelly Irving, got hit with pepper spray, as police tried to control the crowds, seen in student video just released by police.

"My whole face was on fire and I like ran into the house and was like in the shower for like ten minutes trying to wash it off," Irving told WBOC.

She and her friends say police over-reacted; but you won't catch them at this weekend's "War on the Shore 2."

"If they start doing this again and cause all these problems, then they'll just make it so we can't do the actual 'War on the Shore' two years from now," explained Hillary Wasik.

Senior Josh Holt disagrees. He says he will be there.

"I think it's natural that we'd want to kind of respond, saying that we won't be held back when we're trying to have a good time," Holt said. "That's why we're going to try to do it again."

Police Chief Barbara Duncan says her department is carefully monitoring all social media and continuing to investigate the events of last weekend, while preparing for the next.

"We are very concerned with the safety of our community, our entire community and we are working to ensure that everyone has a great time this weekend, not matter what the venue," Chief Duncan told WBOC. "If it's at the lacrosse game or if it's at Salisbury Festival, we want people to come out and enjoy and have a great time."
And there's another concern on police minds -- talk of students arming themselves with pepper spray. Students we spoke with say it's a bad idea.

"We shouldn't be meeting aggression or violence with violence. All that's going to be doing is escalating things," said junior Shawn Hagerty.
"I don't think it's going to go well. You get pepper spray, they're going to grab riot gear," Hold remarked.
Law enforcement met Wednesday to come up with a plan ahead of the coming weekend. They say they will be meeting with Salisbury University Thursday.
As for the use of pepper spray, Chief Duncan continues to defend the actions of police.

"Our investigation is ongoing, of course," she said. "This is one student video that we have that we were able to review and it appears that what you can see in this video is that our officer is responding to having had a beer can thrown at him. What you can see in this video is that his response was within our department guidelines and it was a measured action taken in response to having a beer can thrown at him from someone in the crowd."
Duncan asks anyone with videos of the "War on the Shore" party to share them with police.

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