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?