As we enter the 2015 season, every ballpark is expected to have metal detectors at every gate and our collective obsession with security and safety only increases over time. Such is life in 21st century America.
There is one place, however, where security has been relaxed to some degree. Or, at the very least, where the idea of cutting a security budget is not seen as a non-starter. That place is Citi Field:
The New York Mets dramatically cut security staff at Citi Field in recent years despite concerns the moves would lead to increased response times for emergencies and fights as well as longer wait times at ticket gates, internal documents show.
Budget cuts between 2009 and 2013 led management to pare down the number of security guards, security supervisors and NYPD officers during home games by roughly 29 percent, according to the documents.
Those documents now come to light by virtue of a lawsuit filed by dismissed Mets security personnel. And, in light of that, there are a couple of thoughts here worth keeping in mind:
1. There is likely a tactical reason why these documents are seeing the light of day right now. When security people get fired for whatever reason, they will claim that security has been compromised as a result of their firing. This is the case whether security has actually been compromised or not. It’s the ultimate card to play in that situation, in fact.
2. Just because there is a tactical reason for this information to come to light doesn’t make it false, so simply saying “the fired security guards have released self-serving documents” doesn’t get you anywhere if you’re defending the Mets. Everything alleged in a lawsuit has a tactical purpose. A lot of the stuff alleged, however, is true!
3. The Mets could very well have cut security here, but that in and of itself doesn’t mean that Citi Field has gotten more dangerous. Maybe security was bloated and inefficient before! Maybe savings on security personnel have been plowed into security technology! While the public mood in our post-9/11 world leads people to assume that less money for security or defense or what have you means less safety and vulnerability, that is not necessarily the case. UPDATE: There is a section in the filed documents asserting that, yes, some areas of the park are less safe, but it’s not clear whether that’s an objective judgment or not.
But one thing that is the case is that, when it comes to matters of budget, the Mets don’t always get the benefit of the doubt. Another thing that is the case is that, if an incident were to occur at Citi Field in the near future, be it violent or criminal in nature, the Mets will likely see these documents once again as “Plaintiff’s Exhibit A” in the negligence suit filed against them.
And if and when they do, they will be in the unenviable position of having to make the argument I made in point 3 above, but with much, much higher stakes involved.