Friday, April 8, 2011
Dodgers, LAPD reveal antiviolence plans
By Ramona Shelburne ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said Friday that the organization will foot the entire bill for a "redoubled" police force to ensure public safety at Dodger Stadium following the brutal attack on San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow on Opening Day, March 31.
"I think that this event, and let's keep in mind that it was a couple of individuals spoiling something for a large number of people, I think it really has had an impact, both internally on the organization as well as the community," McCourt said at a raucous news conference Friday morning at the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters, where he was joined by LAPD chief Charlie Beck, Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and city councilman Ed Reyes.
"I can tell you that the efforts are made day in and day out, but sometimes maybe it takes an event like this to bring things to a particular point.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, center, and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck announce additional security measures designed to prevent fan violence at Dodger Stadium.
"It's a top priority for the organization, and we're going to do something about it. We're moving forward, we're going to fix this issue, we're going to address it."
Stow, 42, is in a medically induced coma at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center as a result of the injuries he suffered in the unprovoked attack. Detectives have said they've received numerous leads, but have so far made no arrests. The reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the two suspects has grown to $150,000.
"We'll get 'em," Captain Dave Lindsay of the LAPD's Northeast Division, whose district includes Dodger Stadium, told ESPN's Shelley Smith on Friday. "We've solved harder cases than this. The 'Hillside Strangler,' there was a guy who was robbing firestations. We'll get 'em."
The incident has brought the issue of fan misbehavior and violence to the forefront of the political and cultural agenda in both Los Angeles and San Francisco, where the Giants and Dodgers will open a three-game series on Monday.
McCourt and the Dodgers have come under intense public scrutiny in the wake of the incident for their sluggish public response and the perception that the conditions at Dodger Stadium have deteriorated in recent years without the appropriate response from the organization.
"I've heard the fans and the citizens of this community; they're uncomfortable with the behavior of some at Dodger Stadium," McCourt said. "I have one message for the fans and the citizens of Los Angeles: I hear you loudly, and I hear you clearly."
On Wednesday the Dodgers announced they had hired former LAPD chief William Bratton and his security consulting firm to do a thorough analysis of their existing security procedures, and develop long-term solutions to help improve conditions at the stadium, the second-oldest park in the National League.
On Friday, Beck and Villaraigosa outlined a "zero-tolerance policy" for fan misconduct that will be implemented immediately.
"This is a zero-tolerance policy," Villaraigosa said. "If you're coming to Dodger Stadium to cause trouble, I advise you to stay home because you will be arrested."
The Dodgers' next home game is Thursday against the St. Louis Cardinals.
"When you go into Dodger Stadium, you're going to meet a Los Angeles police officer. When you leave Dodger Stadium you're going to bid farewell to a Los Angeles police officer," Beck said. "We will be a constant presence."
Previously the Dodgers have been responsible for hiring security for their home games. They have used a combination of private security guards and off-duty police officers who do not wear a uniform and do not carry a gun.
Starting next week, those off-duty officers will be in uniform and approved to carry a weapon.
Beck said he alone will supervise the assignment of additional on-duty police officers inside and around the perimeter of the stadium. The cost of those additional officers will be paid by the Dodgers and will not take away from existing patrols.
"I will respect the fact that the Dodgers are willingly paying for this safety," Beck said. "But I will deploy the resources necessary to keep fans safe. That decision will be mine. That's an important piece."
Officer Andrew Neiman, the LAPD officer in charge of media relations, said it's impossible to put a price tag on the financial commitment McCourt and the Dodgers will shoulder because the size of the additional deployment will vary from game to game.
Beck said that the short- and long-term strategies will involve improvements to: security technology, elevated observation posts, improved lighting in the parking lots, license-plate readers for cars entering and exiting the stadium, closed-circuit TVs, debriefings after every game as well as discussions about deployment of safety personnel within Dodger Stadium.
The additional LAPD force will help to enforce existing alcohol, tailgating and security policies. Additionally, season-ticket holders will now face the penalty of having their tickets revoked if they or anyone using their tickets violates any of the new policies.
"We can't look at this as just a Dodger problem," Beck said. "This is a public safety issue."
Neiman said that currently only two to four units have been deployed to the perimeter of Dodger Stadium for home games.
Starting next week, officers will be present inside the stadium, in the parking lot and around the perimeter.
Although crime in and around the stadium has decreased in recent years, Neiman said roughly half the crime in the area around Dodger Stadium occurs within the stadium area on event days.
In 2008 there were 29 serious crimes committed within the immediate vicinity of Dodger Stadium. In 2009 that number rose to 32, but in 2010 it dropped to 21.
The Giants plan to increase their security presence for Monday's game by 15-25 percent, according to Jorge Costa, the team's senior vice president for stadium operations.
"All of us that do this job live on pins and needles every time we open the gates and every time we close the gates," Costa said Thursday. "You just live like that, game to game, event to event because you have so many things to think about and process. It's not something you ever take lightly.
"There shouldn't be any reason why a fan can't wear the opposing team's jersey in the ballpark and have to worry about retaliation. But the reality is that it does happen because some people don't value sportsmanship, they don't value civility to the extent that they should."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy decried the assault at Dodger Stadium and expressed concern for Stow.
"It's disturbing, with what happened there," Bochy said Friday. "You're playing in a game and fans go to that extent and it's really a shame what's happened and hopefully we can stop this.
"These are two teams that have a history, sure, but it's on the baseball field. The guys don't look at it that way as much as 'we're playing a game' -- this isn't a life-or-death situation. It's a sport. So ... we feel for his family and our thoughts are with them and I think Monday night we'll have something for him."
Meanwhile, a relief event will be held for Stow by the Dodgers, American Medical Response (Stow's employer), and various media outlets on Monday at Dodger Stadium. All proceeds will be donated to the trust fund to benefit Stow and his children.
KCAL 9, Prime Ticket, KABC 790, Univision Radio and the Los Angeles Times are taking part.
Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from ESPN's Shelley Smith and The Associated Press was used in this report.