Dodgers start homestand with new security measures to battle 'perception' problem
Say one thing about Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck, at a news conference Thursday to announce the new security measures in place at Dodger Stadium: He was honest about the reason for all of the changes.
Beck maintains that crime is down at Dodger Stadium, but after Giants fan Bryan Stow’s beating in the parking lot on opening day, March 31, he said there was a "crisis in confidence." "Last week a huge amount of attention was brought to this issue," Beck said. "The event that occurred -- Bryan's beating -- increased the perception of fan fear in Dodger Stadium. And increased it to a level where we have to take drastic steps. I think absent that, it might not have happened."
Beck, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and former LAPD chief William Bratton -- the Dodgers’ new security consultant -- met with the media in a stadium parking lot to outline some of the new measures.
"We are going to light this place up," he said.
McCourt said the Dodgers were adding "behavior detection officers" who will patrol the stadium and be on the outlook for fans who have had too much to drink. Beck said there would also be plainclothes officers monitoring alcohol sales.
A lot of activity for a "perception" problem.
McCourt said ticket sales were typical for April and had seemingly not been affected by the controversy.
"That said, certainly this attention to safety at a stadium -- the perception thing, as Chief Beck said -- certainly doesn't help ticket sales," McCourt said. "What will help ticket sales is making sure this is the safest venue in America."
Beck would not say how long the increased LAPD presence would continue at Dodger Stadium.
"Very little in life is permanent," Beck said. "We evaluate the need to deploy resources based on the reality of how the fans act. We’ll do this at this level of deployment for this home series, then we’ll look and see if we need to adjust it upward or downward. It’s a living thing. We’ll make determinations based on what kind of activity we see."
Before the game, there was a new scoreboard message about fan behavior from Vin Scully, and then in Spanish from Jaime Jarrin.
"Have a wonderful time, but not at the expense of anyone else," Scully said. "Have a ball, and make sure it’s right on the money."
Beck also released an updated description of the two suspects sought in connection with Stow's beating. He made another plea for anyone with information about the attack to come forward.
"We are getting calls, but I haven't heard that a-ha moment yet," Beck said.
Both McCourt and Beck spoke of trying to find something positive to come out of the Stow beating and ensuing controversy.
"It's about how we move forward to make this the kind of place we all want it to be," Beck said. "I think that’s why this is a story, that’s why you [media] are all here. We all want this stadium safe, we all want this team to do well -- but I can’t do anything about that. But I can make this stadium safe."
-- Steve Dilbeck