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Dodger Stadium was crawling with police last night, but how long will it last?

Apr 15, 2011, 8:50 AM EDT

LAPD Takes Over Security At Dodgers Games After Attack On Giants Fan Getty Images

Following the attack on Bryan Stow, it’s understandable that the Dodgers and the city of Los Angeles would want to take visible measures to ratchet up safety. Emphasis on the visible, with police officers “on the streets leading up to the stadium and still more at the entrances to the parking lot, the stadium gates and inside the ballpark itself.”

Indeed, they were everywhere, in uniform and plainclothes, in squad cars, on bicycles, motorcycles and even horses. Everyone from captains and lieutenants to patrol officers. And although they were polite and friendly, smiling and exchanging pleasantries with fans, at least one group didn’t hesitate to write citations for several young men they saw loitering by a car in the parking lot. Beck had promised there would be a zero-tolerance policy for tailgaiting.

Enhanced safety is a must, of course, but this is every bit as much an exercise in p.r. as it is a public safety measure.  L.A. police Chief Charlie Beck said as much at a press conference yesterday when he talked about the security issues at Dodger Stadium being a “crisis in confidence” and lamented that, since the attack, “a huge amount of attention was brought” to the issue of Dodger Stadium safety and that the “perception” had to change.

Not that perception isn’t important. Setting aside the civil liberty concerns of it all, how much were Rudy Giuliani’s efforts at cracking down on crime in New York City in the 1990s aided by the perception of what was going on in addition to the actual police work? Despite the cynical thoughts of cynics like me regarding almost comically-conspicuous police activity, it’s undeniable that there are people who are truly comforted by such displays, and that comfort can be translated into action, such as more visits to the stadium and thus a greater family-to-thug ratio in the ballpark.

But how long does Los Angeles and the Dodgers keep this up? It’s clearly not sustainable. After all, while the Stow attack “brought a huge amount of attention,” the area around Dodger Stadium does not have the highest crime rate in the city, and eventually resources will have to be more sensibly deployed.

In other words: how long until the heat blows over, the defacto police parades end and the real security enhancements to Dodger Stadium in the post-Stow era can be properly judged?

  1. professorperry - Apr 15, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    Schneier, who originated the “security theater” phrase, agrees that there are times where the theater is useful (he cites the guys with [unloaded] rifles in airports after 9/11, also the little RFID tags they put on new babies to prevent the extremely unlikely risk of abduction). This seems like such a moment.

    But presumably once the parades are over, we go right back to the situation before the Stow beating, where years passed with only minor crimes and minor brawls, where people who committed drunken acts of violence were generally caught and prosecuted as appropriate, and that was fine. Egregious acts like the Stow beating should not, I think (and I feel confident citing Schneier in this) drive our allocation of resources to security problems. Concentrate on the 99%, not the 1%.

  2. BC - Apr 15, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    Security always is heightened during Red Sox – Yankees or Yankees – Mets series. Helicopters? While that’s cool, its overboard unless say President Obama is at the game. Hopefully it’ll die down, and this was just a couple of folks pre-disposed to cause trouble and extra-fueled with beer.
    Hey, in Philly, they taser you. Maybe not a bad idea to start setting an example or two?

  3. purdueman - Apr 15, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    To answer the question posed by the headline, Dodger police presence inside Dodger Stadium will last only up until the point that the bill that is going to be sent to Dodger owner Frank Mc Broke from the city goes unpaid long enough to get turned over to collection, just like most of his other debts.

    • BC - Apr 15, 2011 at 10:14 AM


  4. teambringitstrong - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    None of the issues persisted BEFORE the Rampart scandal broke

  5. Professor Longnose - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    The best deterrent to drunken sickos beating up people is to catch whoever committed the recent crime. Has any progress been made?

    • Utley's Hair - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:44 AM

      You’re partially right. The best deterrent would be to catch the thugs and then saturate the news with the fact that they were caught. And then convict them of attempted murder, and if Stow happens to succumb, ratchet it up to murder.

      Craig might be able to shed some sort of light—though not necessarily in California—on the plausibility of trying the guys for murder after being convicted of attempted murder. I know Philly at least arrested and charged a guy who was convicted and served his sentence for attempted murder of a police officer, after that officer died 40(?) years later of complications from the incident.

      • Utley's Hair - Apr 15, 2011 at 11:59 AM

      • ltzep75 - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:29 PM

        California is one of the few states that also allows for the so-called “Year and a Day Rule” (but has modified it). Under the common law, a man could be charged with murder if his victim perished within – you guessed it – a year and a day of the alleged crime. California has legislatively abrogated the rule in 1996 to provide that if a person dies more than three years and one day after the alleged commission of the underlying crime, then “there shall be a rebuttal presumption that the killing was not criminal.” Cal. Penal Code s. 194. I’m not sure if this rule has been ruther amended since ’96, and would not be surprised if CA completely did away with the rule and joined the majority of states which have likewise done so.

        That said, I’m not quite sure how the above would play out in CA in your scenario of an attempted murder conviction followed by death. This is one of the benefits (*cough cough) of the ever slow moving wheels of justice, there’s plenty of time for the victim to die before a conviction is secured. Maybe some west-coaster could provide more insight on the matter.

        Your bill will be forthcoming…

  6. Brian Murphy - Apr 15, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    I was there last night. While it was certainly odd to see cops on horseback and at least three officers in front of every gate when entering the stadium and then groups of at least four or more in the area of every gate upon exiting, nothing felt different. Great game, very active and entertaining first five innings. Pujols homered. Good times. I wondered if some knucklehead would start trouble just to create some attention toward himself/herself on a night where the police presence overshadowed the actual game. I guess not.
    How long does it last? I’ll see if it’s longer than next Thursday, when I’ll be in attendance for a matinee against the Braves (Craig). Either way, I have never felt unsafe at any time at Dodger Stadium. I felt unsafe while driving through Downtown L.A. after a Dodgers game on the night the 1992 riots started, but I digress.
    I’ve been been to a couple hundred games at Dodger Stadium in the past 20 years. I’ve sat on the third-base side, first-base side, field level, loge level, infield reserve, upper deck. It’s always been good baseball watchin’. There’s no doubt that many sketchy characters attend every game, and the team hasn’t had a capable security force for a while. But I hate to hear from people who have never been to Dodger Stadium or are thinking about attending a game soon now say they are worried or scared about what might happen to them. The Stow tragedy raises these fears, obviously, but it’s fine. Really. Fine.

  7. purdueman - Apr 15, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    The LAPD has a long and storied history for both bungling cases as well as classic cover ups. I suspect that the LAPD are out looking for the guy who put the Giants fan in a coma just about as hard as OJ went out looking for the “real killers” after he beat his murder rap,

    If the LAPD eventually find this guy, or if he’s handed to them on a silver platter say from a surrounding suburban police department, they will loathe having to prosecute him because it will be all over the papers every day and due to the public outcry very expensive to manage all the way from arrest through trial.

    An example of a classic, textbook LAPD cover up, one needs only to read John Chritian’s book on the Bobby Kennedy assassination. There’s both irrefutable documented evidence that proves that at least two guns were used in the murder AND that Sirhan Sirhan couldn’t possibly have fired the fatal bullet (there were 12 bullets fired of which 11 were recovered and Sirhan’s gun fired 8 shots from 3′ feet away; the fatal shot per the coroners report was fired behind Kennedy’s ear at a range of only 1″-2″‘s).

    Then LA Mayor Yorty though didn’t want any of it to come out in the press and ordered the LAPD to stonewall the case (because he didn’t want to risk exposing his department to the same level of scrutiny that the Dallas PD went through after the JFK assassination and Yorty was a hard right winger who despised the Kennedy’s), and they did until things finally died down (no pun intended), to where people stopped asking questions that the LAPD couldn’t credibly answer.

    A classic case of LAPD bungling a case was the OJ Simpson murder trial. Due to intense hatred and a bitter rivalry between different district detectives, when Van Etter took over the murder scene from Furman, he didn’t even bother to follow standard police procedure to review Furman’s initial observation notes of the crime scene.

    In Furman’s notes (which are public record), he clearly writes that blood droplets were found on the back gate leading to the alley, but Van Etter never followed up until three weeks had passed, and by then the chain of evidence had been broken and Prosecutor Marsha Clark couldn’t use it.

    What did that evidence reveal? All three blood types intermingled of both victims and OJ were found just above the latch to the gate on the gate, along with enough of a blood trail to show where his getaway vehicle (the infamous white Ford Bronco), was parked. This was proof that the murderer was intimately familiar with the property and the surrounding streets that he used to plan his getaway.

    The LAPD has always been a puppet tied to the mayor’s offices strings and nothing has changed in that regard over the years, but to his credit Police Chief Branton did a fantastic job of cleaning up a lot of the corruption that he inherited, but it’s no small wonder that there’s the high level of mistrust among the public towards the LAPD.

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