Artists J. Cole and Sam Adams will perform on Oswego State’s campus April 9, a smaller event than past years due to security concerns, SAPB officials said.
While University Police will still post five officers at the concert, which in the Campus Center Arena, the number of tickets available will shrink by 1,000, University Police Chief Cynthia Adam said. The audience for the rap-based act will be limited to 1,200 tickets, down 45 percent from last year’s count of 2,200 tickets available for the Goo Goo Dolls.
"When we look at concerts we need to ensure that we’re matching at size of the venue to the size of the crowd to the size of the security," Adam said. "We have been continuing to scale back and have events that are right sized for this environment."
At the Reel Big Fish concert last semester, Assistant Chief John Rossi was stepped on and pushed.
"The atmosphere of a concert can be very volatile at times," Director of SAPB Kennon Campbell said. "That is one of our biggest concerns."
Kennon cited drinking and drug use as factors that risk making the crowd unruly.
The shift to smaller events was caused because of downsizing within U.P. as a result of an early retirement incentive offered to officers last semester. Oswego’s department lost five officers last semester, meaning some large-scale event possibilities were put out of reach for this year. "I don’t think we knew then how difficult it was going to be so difficult to get these positions refilled," Adam said. "Our department is the smallest it has ever, ever been."
The dearth of officers means more work for the remaining force.
"We have nine police officers to try to cover, 24/7, 21 shifts a week," Adam said. "It’s just very, very difficult. We’re looking at probably another year of being this short staffed."
Contract conflicts and training discrepancies prevent the hiring of outside security agencies for additional concert security. Any officer that comes on campus for additional security must have the exact same training as U.P. officers, Adam said. While U.P. has the option to ask other SUNY police departments for additional help, they might not have available officers to spare.
"It is increasingly difficult to ask other agencies for help because they are extremely short-staffed," Adam said.
Another hurdle: borrowed officers need to have the same certifications as U.P., making officer lending from outside the system practically impossible, Adam said.
The reduced amount of ticket sales may make it difficult for SAPB to fulfill their $45,000 concert income line.
"[It’s] something that’s not in our control," Student Association President Steven DiMarzo said. "Unfortunately it’s an outside issue that has a negative impact on the concert."
While SAPB considered raising the price of tickets, they ultimately decided against it to keep the concert affordable for students.
"A concert with 1,200 is not going to let us meet our income line," Campbell said. "We understand that everyone is put in different situations, and we are doing our best to accommodate that."
One idea SAPB is considering to meet their income line is bringing a notable comedian to campus for a ticketed event. Officials hope that a medium-sized event will be secure and sell enough tickets to meet their goal, Campbell said. However, the campus history with comedians is mixed. In 2007, the college was forced to cancel a performance by comedian Jamie Kennedy due to low-ticket sales. Only 80 tickets were sold.