It's not a 'perception issue' that Dodgers eliminated uniformed police officers at stadium in 2009
Someday, there will be good news coming the Dodgers’ way. Not today, though. Certainly not recently. Probably not tomorrow, either.
It’s an organization on the wrong kind of a roll. And still picking up speed.
Security has become a bigger issue with the Dodgers than their lack of offensive power, and now a new story in The Times by Joel Rubin shows that the Dodgers eliminated having uniformed police at Dodger Stadium two years ago. That’s two years before the brutal attack of a Giants fan on opening day.
Dodgers spokesman Josh Rawitch, who keeps getting stuck having to speak for Frank McCourt, acknowledged in the story that the organization cut uniformed officers from the security team, but declined to discuss the reason.
Anybody want to make any wild guesses?
Later in the story, it said uniformed police officers were paid $50 an hour and worked about six hours per game. With 81 home games and approximately 50 uniformed police officers working most games, Rubin notes the cost could easily exceed $1 million.
At Thursday’s news conference on security in a Dodger Stadium parking lot, L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck said there was a "crisis in confidence" in the security at the stadium, but it was a perception issue more than a reality. Which gives me a crisis in confidence in Beck.
Beck keeps saying that the crime numbers are down at the stadium. Numbers, as we know in baseball, are great things. His numbers refer to serious crimes, and their decline could have something to do with 50 uniformed policemen no longer around the ballpark.
And as Rubin said, those declining numbers do not include less serious crimes such as public intoxication and disorderly conduct.
Beck comes off as a bright man, but he seems out of touch with what’s actually going on inside the stadium. It’s not just the violent crimes, but the general abusive fan behavior and foul language. I invite him to wear an opposing team’s jersey and sit in a few of the sections and then come back and report how the stadium problems are just a perception issue.
Officers told Rubin that when the Dodgers hired them to work in blue polo shirts, an intimidation factor was lost. And the situation was compounded by an increasing presence of gang members at games over the last several years.
"I lasted two games," said one LAPD officer, who stayed on briefly at the stadium after uniforms were eliminated. "It was crazy. These gangbangers would be drunk, defiant, cursing us out when we tried to kick them out. They had no idea we were cops. We had no leverage on them. There is no authority in a polo shirt."
Now off-duty uniformed police are back in force, which is a good thing. How long they’ll be back is uncertain. How long does it take to change perception?
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Los Angeles police officers make their way through Dodger Stadium after the game Friday night. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times