Police in London, Ont., are defending an officer’s decision to issue a $140 ticket over an impromptu cheerleading performance during homecoming festivities at Western University over the weekend.

According to coach David-Lee Tracey, Western’s cheerleading team was walking to the homecoming football game when they broke out into one of their routines on Broughdale Ave., where police estimate as many as 3,000 students had gathered.

The ticket said the cheerleaders caused “a nuisance in (the) street” with their routine.

“There’s no way this was a planned performance to disrupt traffic and to cause a riot in the streets of London,” Tracey said. “It was simply the cheerleading team walking to the football game, and I think that a little discretion would have gone a long way.”

On Monday, London’s Deputy Police Chief Brent Shea said it was a “seasoned, experienced” officer that issued the ticket.

“On-scene officers were quite surprised that the cheerleaders would be in such an environment, performing cheers where you’re throwing people up in the air and catching people,” Shea told reporters at a news conference.

“When the cheer in question commenced, approximately 250 to 300 spectators ran specifically toward the area where the cheer was taking place, which was in the middle of the roadway.”

Shea noted that in previous years, the cheerleading squad was able to perform along the road during the homecoming parade, which was a “controlled atmosphere.”

But he said the crowd that had gathered on Broughdale Ave. was more unruly, and pointed out that police were concerned with the level of public drinking and other behaviour. He showed a video taken by police of some students climbing onto roofs of nearby houses within a half hour of the ticket being issued to the cheer squad.

“There was a high level of non-compliance with liquor license laws, people with open liquor walking down the street,” Shea said. “The potential for escalation was considerable.”

In a statement, police also said the large crowd created “significant safety risks as emergency services vehicles (police, fire and ambulance) would not have been able to access premises in this residential area.”

Shea said that although police issued 270 tickets during the homecoming celebrations, no one was injured and there were no major incidents other than the large crowd on Broughdale Ave.

Shea said police are willing to meet with the team’s coach and captain to discuss the incident.

On Monday, the university issued a statement about the ticket and police actions over the course of the weekend.

“Western’s championship cheerleading team is known the world over for delivering incredible performances. The university believes strongly that an impromptu performance by some of the cheerleaders en route to campus was well-intentioned,” the statement read.

“Western also understands that London Police felt the need to act and engage their crowd control strategies to manage this large gathering on Saturday.”