UPD: Every officer helps when responding to large fights
UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Utica Police say that large fights do happen, but it is rare for two incidents involving 100+ people to happen in the same night, as they did Friday night into Saturday morning.
The first incident involved 200 people fighting at the Utica Rec Center on the Parkway. The fight broke out around 8:00 p.m. Friday.
Just a few hours later, a second event involving around 100 people broke out at the Club Toxic on Broad Street in East Utica. At least four people suffered injuries relating from stabbings and bar stools being thrown.
Utica Police Sgt. Steve Hauck said, "You get nights like that. It's stressful, because you're far outnumbered. You're dealing with 100-200 people and nowhere near that for officers. It's not one person getting beat up, its mutual combatants, someone stabs someone, someone hits someone with a stool, becomes a suspect. Then they're a victim."
Not only is dealing with the fighting complicated, but so is the follow-up investigation. Hauck said, "Hopefully you have some witnesses that are cooperative, hopefully victims that are cooperative, sometimes you have video, and you put all of that together. Hopefully you find the truth, which is what we're looking for."
Because of recent budget cuts in the City of Utica, there are less police officers on the street than there were a year ago. For safety reasons, officials will not say how many officers are specifically out at a given time.
Hauck said, "Six nights out of the week, it's not an issue. But then you have a night like last night that there's just not enough officers out there for the number of people. Would ten more officers make a difference? You're certainly not going to have a 1-1 ratio. But three to four more officers, every officer makes a bit of difference. All the people that are there fall under the responsibility of us trying to protect them. it's difficult to do when you don't have enough officers."
Investigations into both incidents are ongoing. Police are asking the public's help for more information, specifically regarding the incident at Club Toxic. Those witnesses can call police at 315-223-3510.