Mansfield police chief says parents must help stop widespread underage drinking at Comcast Center

A week after two men died from overdoses at an all-day rave concert at the Comcast Center, Mansfield police arrested 35 people at a hip-hop show Wednesday night and took dozens more into protective custody for drunkenness.

“The bulk of those arrests were for underage drinking,” said Mansfield Police Chief Arthur O’Neill. “We’ve got a god-awful problem with it.”

O’Neill added: “We’re doing everything we possibly can. As much as I’d like to, I can’t check every bottle. It’s time for the parents to step up and be aware what their kids are doing.”

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Eighteen juveniles were arrested or taken into protective custody, according to police. Nine people were given citations for marijuana possession. A number of concert-goers were taken to the hospital for intoxication, the chief said.

About 11,000 people attended the show, which featured rappers Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller.

The underage drinking was centered in the parking lot, with many teenagers drinking mixed drinks from soda and sports drinks bottles. Some were dangerously drunk, the chief said.

O’Neill said 35 officers were working the concert, and said tighter security isn’t the solution.

At last week’s all-day rave concert, authorities say drug and alcohol use was rampant, and that some people took dangerous combinations of ecstasy, PCP and marijuana. A teenager from Acton and a 27-year-old from Syracuse, N.Y. died, and 19 people were hospitalized for drug-related problems. Four of them were critically ill.

O’Neill said he is in frequent contact with the general manager of the concert arena, and said management of the concert venue is very concerned about the recent problems. Concert giant LiveNation owns the Comcast Center.

“They are honestly trying to run a good house down there,” he said.

LiveNation pays for the police details, but O’Neill said covering the concerts puts a strain on the department.

In a report on last week’s troubled concert, Fire Chief Neal Boldrighini said emergency personnel were “extremely busy with heavy drug and alcohol abuse” and assisted in pulling many concert-goers from “at times hostile crowds.”

“There were a significant number of seizures-like activity and combative patients,” he wrote.

Four EMTs were needed to remove one patient, described as “heavily combative with altered level of consciousness.”

The concert highlights the strain the Comcast Center puts on the department, the fire chief said, at times monopolizing the department’s entire shift and leaving no personnel to respond to other incidents.

“It is evident the staffing levels, while sufficient for the type of crowd dynamics 10 or even five years ago, is not sufficient for the crowd activity this season,” Boldrighini wrote. “The system, while not responsible for the actions of the crowd, must see change to better and more safely handle the hazards to both the patients and public safety personnel associated with the level of alcohol and drug consumption found at these concerts.”