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Police make presence felt at Dodger Stadium

Security and the mood are heavy at Dodger Stadium as police begin a zero-tolerance policy after an attack on fan.

April 15, 2011|By Robert Faturechi and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times
  • The LAPD is out in force at Dodger Stadium as a zero-tolerance policy gets underway.
The LAPD is out in force at Dodger Stadium as a zero-tolerance policy gets… (Gary Friedman, Los Angeles…)

Police on foot, bikes and horses descended on Chavez Ravine on Thursday night as Dodgers fans got their first taste of the ballpark's new "zero-tolerance" crackdown on rowdy behavior, prompted by the beating of a San Francisco Giants fan on opening day.

Many Dodger faithful said they were thankful for the beefed-up police presence, but disheartened it was necessary.

After the assault that left paramedic Bryan Stow, 42, of Santa Cruz in a coma, team officials and the Los Angeles Police Department promised more uniformed officers.

Police Chief Charlie Beck pledged there would be "a sea of blue, and it's not going to be Dodger blue. It's going to be LAPD blue."

That new reality left many fans feeling overwhelmed.

Harrison Leonard, 24, his wife and two buddies said the conversation during the car ride from Santa Clarita was the group's concern that the police response would be overblown.

Leonard, a season ticket-holder, said he was horrified by the assault and was grateful police were cracking down. But he worried the ballpark was going to lose its "hometown feel" as a result.

"It's just going to look like a prison game," he said, pointing to a line of patrol cars as three bike cops whizzed by. "It looks like an army going to battle. I mean, these guys are ready to do business."

Greg Baggerly, a 48-year-old in L.A. on business, stood waiting to buy a ticket, the sole fan donning a bright red Cardinals jersey. He said he mulled showing up in more neutral attire after hearing what happened at the home opener.

"My friends were all telling me I'm crazy, gonna get pummeled," he said. "But I figured the Cardinals-Dodgers rivalry isn't that intense."

Before the game, Dodgers officials filled two tour buses with reporters and sent them out to inspect the stadium's new security measures. Lines of patrol cars filled one end of the parking lot and circles of LAPD officers huddled nearby, prepping for the evening. A big screen in the back of a GMC Yukon showed a zoomed-in aerial view of the lot from a police helicopter.

The Dodgers plan to create a computer mapping and crime-tracking system similar to one used by the LAPD to scrutinize crime patterns and hot spots throughout Los Angeles.

Some officers were working the stadium for the first time Thursday. One who polices the area regularly told a reporter there were so many uniforms out Thursday night they were "tripping over each other."

Beck told reporters before the game that crime was actually down at Dodger Stadium, and the problem was more one of perception — just as important, he said, because even an inaccurate perception could keep fans away.

By the end of the evening, police had issued 38 citations for minor infractions, but made no arrests, said Deputy Chief Jose Perez.

From his seat near the left field foul line, season ticket-holder Richard Marin, 37, of Inglewood watched police haul one unruly fan after another out of the left field bleachers through the first six innings.

"There's been more drama out there than in the game," he said.

Marin said something needed to be done to make the stadium safer, but wonders if the LAPD went too far.

"Maybe some of the money for all these cops could have gone to the victim and his family."

robert.faturechi@latimes.com

richard.winton@latimes.com

Times staff writer David Wharton contributed to this report.

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