More enforcement after Bills fan catches fire?

Posted at 7:59 PM, Jan 04, 2016

The video is pretty unbelievable to watch. A fan jumps onto a burning table, then flames ignite his clothes. The fan jumps onto the fiery table a second time.

The video is upsetting to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz (D), who sites safety concerns.

"People seem to think it's okay to act like idiots," Poloncarz said. "Like it's the old Roman Coliseum, where anything goes, just because it's a game at the Ralph." Poloncarz said this behavior would never be accepted, let alone laughed at, at high school, college or Sabres games.

However, this is just one video made by Bills fans that have gone viral throughout the year. Other videos show fans having sex in public and slamming a man dressed up as Santa into a table.

According to Orchard Park Police Chief Marc Pacholec, officers are now trying to determine where this latest stunt took place. They believe it occurred in a private lot, just like the other viral videos showing bad Bills fan behavior this year.

"People tend to be creatures of habit," Pacholec stated, while explaining why police want to figure out which private lot this happened in. "They typically park in a similar area. People have habits we can then focus our habits on those parking areas."

Pacholec added that Orchard Park Police, both in uniform and plain-clothed, focused more attention on private lots during the last few Bills home games. Chief Pacholec states certain lots have had consistent problems with larcenies, underage drinking, fights and even fires from grills left on.

"The plain clothes (officers) are seeing some interesting behavior," Pacholec said. "The problem with taking action on those behaviors is you have to have officers there or else you have a ripple effect and big problems."

However, a bigger response could be in the works for next year. Erie County and the Bills franchise have worked hard to clean-up behavior at Ralph Wilson Stadium to make it a family-friendly environment. The Bills, law enforcement and county officials regularly meet about security. Cracking down on fan behavior, even if it's outside of the stadium, is an issue Poloncarz plans to address.

"If it requires us to put more security, more police officers, more sheriff's deputies, maybe now even the New York State Police, maintaining and going through all the lots -- even the private lots, it doesn't matter private or public, because if you're breaking the law you need to be arrested, maybe we need to do that," the County Executive told 7 Eyewitness News.

Poloncarz said it's also up to the fans to monitor each other. "What bothered me is not only did this gentleman do this, but other people seemed to egg him on," Poloncarz stated.

The Bills organization said that it always reminds fans to "act responsibly both inside and outside the stadium, and if you see something, say something." During the football season, that message was placed inside the stadium, on signs in the parking lot and on printed materials. The team also cites a "great working relationship" with Orchard Park Police.

Scott Berchtold, a spokesman with the Buffalo Bills, said that fan behavior has actually improved, a sentiment echoed by Pacholec.

"Despite the one-off video, fan behavior in general has improved for the fourth straight season," Berchtold explained. "Ejections, arrests and major incidents have gone down."

Berchtold stated that Bills fans have also set their own record with the most sign-ups for the Bills Designated Driver Program to date. He adds that, "This season, Bills fans rank in the top three in the entire NFL with regard to Designated Driver signups."




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