Every department of IU Public Safety joins university, external partners to keep football games safe, secure.
Sep 21, 2023
When you attend an Indiana University football game, the field isn’t the only place where team effort is on display. Every unit of IU Public Safety is engaged to ensure everyone stays safe at Memorial Stadium. We went behind-the-scenes to find out what it takes to pull off a safe game day.
With a thermometer, flashlight, and clipboard in hand, Graham McKeen, public and environmental health director for Environmental Health and Safety, is a familiar face at concession stands around the stadium.
Graham McKeen, public and environmental health director for Environmental Health and Safety at IU, checks the temperature on food in the concession stands at Memorial Stadium. Photo by Chris Meyer, Indiana University.
As staff bustle behind the concession counter to wrap hot dogs, heat popcorn and wash and sanitize equipment before the customers arrive, McKeen maneuvers around them and checks items off on his clipboard.
He opens refrigerator and freezer doors to see the temperature gauge, ensuring food is labeled and stored properly. He pokes his thermometer into a hot dog to make sure it’s been cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and kept at 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above. He looks up into the ketchup, mustard and relish dispensers with his flashlight to confirm they are clean.
Temperature and cleanliness are a key part of McKeen’s inspection, but it’s not just the food that he’s checking on. He also wants to make sure the water in the hand sinks reaches at least 100 degrees for employees to wash their hands properly. He checks in with the staff to remind them that they shouldn’t work if they have a fever or other symptoms of illness. He looks to see if they are wearing hats or hair restraints and gloves when handling food to avoid contamination.
Once the inspection is complete, McKeen is on to the next concession stand. Each one is checked roughly 2-3 times during the season, and if there are issues that need to be corrected, McKeen will return to make sure food safety is maintained.
“Food safety is a top priority,” McKeen said. “About 120,000 people are hospitalized and about 3,000 die each year from foodborne illness in the United States, which is why maintaining a clean environment, proper storage and maintaining foods at the right temperatures are critical to our health.”
Traffic and facilities
Wearing neon yellow reflective vests, you can’t miss IU police officers at the games. They want to be visible, so fans know where to look for help. The IUPD arrive at the stadium hours before the game begins, and they stay for hours after it’s over until traffic has cleared out.
IU Police Officer Tyler Ogden directs traffic near Memorial Stadium during an IU football game. Photo by Chris Meyer, Indiana University.
Well before kickoff, you can find officers with K-9s. The K-9s sniff through the stadium, noses trained to detect explosives. IUPD Motorcycle units are deployed to escort both teams to the stadium. As fans start to arrive, officers direct traffic from the middle of intersections to guide vehicles along.
Officers are stationed near the gates, supporting security and answering questions from fans. They’re also walking throughout the stadium in case anyone needs help at any point during the game, ensuring the area remains safe and secure.
“Planning for the games is done weeks in advance and in coordination with our partners on campus and locally,” said Hannah Skibba, public information officer for IU Public Safety. “During the games, the IUPD focuses on maintaining a presence so those who are attending can enjoy the game safely and find us if they need us.”
In the off-site operations center, all the components of safety within IU and locally come together in one space where a team is ready to coordinate a response to any need that arises.
Amanda Roach, university director for Emergency Management and Continuity, points to security camera footage from the operations center. Photo by Chris Meyer, Indiana University.
Compared to the stadium, all you can hear in the operations center is the quiet hum of conversation and occasional typing on a keyboard. Representatives from the IUPD, Emergency Management and Continuity, Public Safety dispatch, the FBI, Bloomington Fire Department, Indiana State Police, IU Event Services, IU Health and two external security organizations are seated near each other, monitoring activities in and around the stadium.
They listen to officers communicating over the radio and watch live security camera footage on 15 screens. Also in the room is a mobile dispatch center with a dispatcher watching three screens, ready to answer radio calls from IUPD officers and send officers to areas in need immediately.
A drone flies above them, piloted from the roof by Ryan Bassett, a systems analyst and licensed drone pilot. The aerial video from the drone shows traffic congestion and monitors activity from the air, allowing the team to respond quickly from the ground.
Like the police officers, members of the operations center arrive at work hours before the game begins and until traffic clears up.
“This is one place where our agencies can connect and work together to solve whatever problem there might be,” said Amanda Roach, university director for Emergency Management and Continuity. “If there’s an issue, it’s never one person’s to solve. We’re all here with a common goal to make this a safe event and support our campus community.”