Race arrests down at OPS

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OXFORD – The number of people arrested over the weekend of the TD Banknorth 250 race at Oxford Plains Speedway dropped from last year’s figure.

“This is the quietest 250 I’ve ever experienced,” said Sgt. Rickie Jack of the Oxford Police Department. “It was a very good weekend.”

Jack said there were about 17 arrests and 16 summonses at the event. The 2006 race saw 24 arrests.

Jack said the biggest problem officers faced was underage drinking. Other arrests were for operating under the influence, domestic assault, and disorderly conduct.

Three minors were arrested Monday morning on charges of theft.

Some people were brought in on charges of violating bail conditions or warrants of arrest.

“They’ve had past issues in other areas due to similar activity,” Jack said. “It’s not really a big surprise.”

Ernest Martin, administrator of the Oxford County Jail, said three people were found to have outstanding warrants from other Maine counties.

The jail still booked about 40 people over the weekend, as opposed to the normal weekend numbers of 15 to 20.

“We were impacted quite a bit,” Martin said.

Many of those arrested were drunk and disorderly, and such arrests are usually delegated to a holding tank, he said.

“That’s in great demand when you’ve got a lot of people coming in who are drunk, so you can’t always put them where they need to be,” he said.

Martin said he used to work security at the race, and suspected that increasing numbers of participants were coming to the racetrack to party rather than watch the event.

“My hunch is that most of these arrests are people who don’t hold tickets,” he said.

Jack said officers from the Oxford, Norway and Paris police departments provided security at the racetrack over the weekend. He said there was an average of 12 officers on duty per shift, with a total of 23 officers working during the weekend. The officers were kept overnight on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and the track was cleared of visitors on Monday morning.

The racetrack’s normal security staff was also working at the event.

Kalle Oakes, announcer for OPS, said he could not think of any major changes in the security at the track since last year, aside from a new rule forbidding the use of ATVs at the event.

Oxford Town Manager Michael Chammings credited planning by town departments for the reduction in arrests. He said he lives near the racetrack and thought the noise level of the event had also decreased from last year.

“I’ve had no complaints,” Chammings said.

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