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ITHACA, N.Y. — The rivalry between Ithaca College and State University of New York College at Cortland has come to a head in a football game referred to as “the biggest little game in the nation.”

But with the game also comes the task of police officers dealing with crowds of at least 10,000 people, which results in 911 calls that run the gamut from noise complaints to severe injuries.

During Saturday’s game, two college-age men were airlifted to regional hospitals after falling — one from a roof in Collegetown and the other likely from a balcony at Ithaca College in the town of Ithaca.

In 2013, about 80 people were arrested during a riot in Cortaca where streets were trashed, a car was flipped and a man literally jumped off a roof.

Related: 7 questions about the Cortaca game in Ithaca answered

On Saturday, the two reported airlifts aside, Ithaca police Officer Jamie Williamson said that while there were more calls for service than a typical weekend, it was much calmer than 10 to 30 years ago.

“It’s not as busy (for police) as it has been in years past,” he said.

“We didn’t have enough officers to arrest people,” he joked as he remembered that people openly walked the streets with cans of beer.

Williamson gave the following list of Cortaca related calls police responded to Saturday in the city of Ithaca:

  • 3 tickets were issued open container violations
  • 1 ticket issued for underage possession of alcohol
  • 4 noise complaints reported
  • 1 person ticketed for noise complaints
  • 2 warnings issued for noise complaints
  • 1 warning for disorderly conduct
  • 1 warning for trespassing
  • 5 tickets issued in separate incidents of people under 21-years-old trying to use a fake ID to but alcohol at Northside Wine & Spirits

While Williamson said the tickets issued at the liquor store cannot be directly related to Cortaca celebrations, it’s likely that they were because of the store’s proximity to the college, the abnormally high number of offenders and the fact that of the incidents happened in the afternoon.

“It’s not something we usually get. Sometimes you’ll get maybe two in an evening,” he said about fake IDs.

Williamson said, however, that the decrease of crimes committed during Cortaca has been a community-wide effort.

For instance, he said Northside Wine & Spirits employees are some of the best when it comes to spotting fake IDs.

That combined with police agencies in the area, particularly IPD, having zero tolerance for alcohol related offenses throughout the academic year has also helped with the decrease in calls, Williamson said.

At Ithaca College, Williamson said organizers have made strides by hosting events before, during and after the football game to help keep students out of the bars and keep them sober longer.

“It’s a multi-headed approach,” he said.

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.