Police brace for Hobo Day, call in reinforcements

Noah Brown

It is no secret that Hobo Day is famous for the parties it inspires. Every year, thousands of students and alumni arrive in Brookings to celebrate the largest one-day event in the Dakotas. That fact is not lost on Brookings Police Chief Jeff Miller.

“Every Hobo Day weekend we have every officer working, we hit the neighborhoods really hard and try to let the people who are throwing parties know to keep it small and keep it quiet so that we don’t have to pay you a visit,” said Miller.

Miller estimates that as many as 50,000 people could be in Brookings this weekend to celebrate their Hobo pride, which means that Brookings Police will need some backup in their fight to keep the city safe.

“We will have cooperation with the South Dakota Highway Patrol and the Brookings County Sheriff’s Office throughout the weekend,” said Miller.

The Highway Patrol will be conducting saturation patrols this weekend to combat drunk driving. There is also a scheduled sobriety checkpoint on Thursday night. The location for that checkpoint is in Brookings County, according to Miller.

Law enforcement around the area is prepared for the 100th anniversary of Hobo Day, but it is impossible to know just how much work they will have to do.

“[The amount of calls] could be a larger number this year, but we really don’t know,” said Miller. “Weather plays a really big factor, especially at night. If it is really cold then more people will want to stay inside.”

Brookings Police will also play a large role in the parade on Saturday morning. Every year, the proposed parade route must be approved by a number of city department heads, including the Fire Chief and the Chief of Police. The University Police Department will handle security from where the parade starts, at around 11th Street and Medary Avenue, up until 8th Street and Medary Avenue. At that point Brookings Police takes over.

“Our guys work a lot of long hours, especially on the night shifts, Friday and Saturday night,” said Miller.

UPD has quite the task ahead of them as well. It is their job to ensure the law is upheld on campus. This includes monitoring traffic during the parade and making sure tailgaters don’t get too rowdy before the football game. They also will respond to calls around campus that deal with alcohol and drug use in the residence halls.

The UPD squad cars around the perimeter of campus will also be watching for drunk drivers, as well as for other traffic violations. Just like the Brookings Police, UPD will have nearly all of their officers on the clock throughout the weekend.