ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Media was not allowed at a meeting Tuesday evening regarding police vigilance of private lots during Buffalo Bills home games.
The meeting was held at One Bills Drive in Orchard Park and comes after videos of wild Bills fans have spread over the Internet, including one of a Bills fan lighting himself on fire and another of a fan crashing into a van while playing the drinking game Dizzy Bat.
With the Bills' first home game Thursday, law enforcement have come forward with new security measures, including enhanced security presence and walk-through metal detectors at New Era Field.
According to Orchard Park Police Chief Mark Pacholec, there are a few private lots near the stadium that are the most concerning from a law enforcement standpoint.
The Bills and police are talking about starting a permit system for private lot owners to allow police access during home Bills games. Officials believe this permit system could make it easier for law enforcement to handle situations that happen on private property nearby the stadium.
"We're not talking about the mom-and-dad, smaller lots, and we're not talking about the bulk of them, but there are a handful of them-- five, six lots, that continually present problems," Pacholec said last week. "Car larcenies. People jumping on burning tables and setting themselves on fire. People do stupid things that are going to get themselves and others hurt."
"If you went online and Googled any team in the NFL, they're all going to have issues. I think what we're battling is the Buffalo Bills history of tailgating and years ago it was a lot worse here to be a fan and to come to a game, quite frankly, and I think the Bills have paid attention to the negativity that has happened many years ago and tried to address that," said Andy Major, Buffalo Bills V.P. of Operations.
The Bills say negative fan behavior has gone down drastically over the past four or five seasons and that arrest numbers are down and ejection numbers are down. The Bills also said issues have been addressed in the lots the Bills own by adding more law enforcement officers and private security. Now, they want to tackle problems that pop up in private lots.
"We have a duty to respond when we have those things. When people get hurt. When people get burned. When people are in a condition when they need our help or EMS's help. We will always fulfill our duties. But we're looking for another tool to be proactive, and that has to be a legal tool," says Pacholec.
Daniel Pelsey, who has been allowing cars to park in his yard for five or six years, says he is totally against the permit idea. He usually has about 15 cars in his yard and hasn't had any issues.
"It's just giving the police department permission to come on your property if there's an incident. Now I feel if there's an incident I call them, they come. I don't need a permit to have them come here,” says Pelsey.
After Tuesday's meeting, Pacholec said a second meeting will be held in the near future. He also said that if the permit program happens, it would be through a town ordinance. That process would take a while, so he doesn't expect the permits, which would be free of cost, to be required any time soon.