The Albemarle County Police Department released preliminary figures Saturday evening stating there were five arrests made at this year’s Foxfield Races. One of the five individuals arrested was a University student.
Virginia State Police made four of the five arrests on drunk-in-public charges, while Albemarle County Police made the other arrest for disorderly conduct. In addition to law enforcement issues, there were also 31 individuals who visited the medical tent with medical issues, 12 of which are known to be related to alcohol. Three individuals were transported to the emergency room. It is currently unknown if the three ER trips were related to alcohol.
The races — which began in 1978 — are a popular tradition among University students and the local community. According to Albemarle County Police, this year’s annual Foxfield Races drew a crowd of 15,000 people.
These arrest numbers represent a decline in arrests compared to previous years. In 2016, there were 20 arrests made at the race as opposed to seven arrests in 2015, 18 in 2014 and 33 in 2013. Each year, the majority of arrests were alcohol-related.
Albemarle County Police and the Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad were stationed at the Foxfield Races monitoring the event and ensuring safety.
“When you go to any event, you’re expected to abide by the law,” said Madeline Curott, a spokesperson for the Albemarle County Police Department. “[Officers are] looking for anything that is breaking the law, whether it’s underrage drinking, drug use, incidents like this where there’s disorderly conduct or [being] drunk-in-public.”
“I think we do a good job of educating,” Curott said. “Some of our officers go over to U.Va. and give a talk to students and just explain to them what they can do to make sure that they can have a good and safe time ... We put stuff out on our social media and just try to remind people that we’re there to ensure that they have a safe, enjoyable time and we’re there if they need us.”
In the weeks prior to Foxfield, the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team at the University has with Albemarle County Police, the Office of the Dean of Students, the Inter-Fraternity Council and the Inter-Sorority Council to talk to students participating in the events of Foxfield weekend about what to expect and how to stay safe.
ADAPT co-hosted two sessions of its annual Foxfield Education Session in Newcomb Hall April 16 with Albemarle County Police and representatives from Foxfield. The presentations focused on alcohol education and general information about race day. The program emphasized information about medical facilities and law enforcement resources available at Foxfield.
Miranda Gali, ADAPT co-chair and a fourth-year College student, said that the ADAPT student safety tent handed out water, as well as sunscreen and snacks at the Foxfield Races, and that the tent was successful in helping reduce consequences of dehydration and unhealthy alcohol usage.
“I think it’s really effective, I know last year and this year as well, water is a really big part of our student tent,” Gali said. “Keeping students hydrated and safe is a big thing that we do and we think we’ve been doing better.”
ADAPT’s Safe Foxfield Races Campaign began 17 years ago when the University recognized a need for greater promotion of healthy behaviors during Foxfield weekend.
“Last year there were also five arrests so it’s kind of remained steady, but that’s pretty low in comparison to other years,” Gali said. “Overall I just like to think that the continual messaging, not just from our Foxfield campaign but from all of our campaigns, is getting through to students so they at least know a few things they can do to stay safe.”
This article has been updated with additional interviews about the Foxfield Races.