After the unprovoked attack last week at Dodger Stadium that left a San Francisco Giants fan with brain damage, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck on Thursday announced a plan to significantly increase the number of police officers on patrol during games.
"You are going to see a sea of blue. And it's not going to be Dodger blue. It's going to be LAPD blue," Beck said of the beefed-up police presence planned for the team's next home game Thursday.
Beck made the announcement at a news conference with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, where both were at pains to restore the public's sense of safety at the stadium and in its sprawling parking lots.
The chief said that "at the absolute minimum" he would double the 30 to 40 uniformed officers who typically are deployed at games. Beck declined to provide specific numbers, saying his staff was still working to determine how many officers were needed to provide more comprehensive coverage inside and outside the stadium. Along with the higher number of uniformed officers, Beck emphasized that undercover officers would be deployed as well.
LAPD officers working at Dodger Stadium are typically off duty from their normal patrol assignments. So, it is unlikely that the increase in security will drain officers from nearby police stations. The stadium is one of a handful of high-profile sporting and entertainment locations in the city where off-duty officers are permitted to wear their uniforms while providing security.
Asked whether the cost of adding officers would be passed on to Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, Beck said he expected that the Dodgers would foot the bill. Villaraigosa, however, declined to say whether he had a formal commitment from McCourt to pay what could quickly become a six-figure cost depending on the number of officers deployed and how many games the increased staffing levels last through. A spokesperson for the Dodgers said the team would pay for the increase.
The announcement came as Beck's predecessor, William J. Bratton, began to assemble a team of security experts to assess the situation at the stadium in Elysian Park. After coming under heated criticism for his muted response to the attack, McCourt on Wednesday hired Kroll Associates, the security consulting firm run by Bratton, to make recommendations on improving safety at the stadium.
Bratton, in an interview, said the team would be looking at a wide range of issues, including lighting in the parking lots, staffing levels of security personnel and the organization's policy on alcohol sales. A recommendation to curb beer and liquor sales at games would cause a serious conundrum for McCourt, since they typically account for a large portion of profits at sporting venues.
Several people who witnessed the attack on Bryan Stow in the stadium parking lot after the rival Giants and Dodgers squared off last week said the two unidentified assailants appeared to be drunk, police officials said.
Bratton touted his close ties to the department he ran for seven years, saying his knowledge of its inner workings and relationship with Beck and other senior officials would help kick-start discussions on how to improve collaboration between the police and the Dodgers. Bratton hired Michael Hillmann, a retired LAPD assistant chief, to head up the team of consultants. After the 2007 MacArthur Park melee in which LAPD officers ran roughshod over a largely peaceful crowd of protesters, Bratton tapped Hillmann to remake the department's protocols on how to handle events involving large, potentially unruly crowds.
The investigation into the Dodger Stadium attack is ongoing. Deputy Chief Jose Perez said police were inundated with more than 80 tips from callers responding to composite sketches of the attackers and news of a $100,000 reward for information leading to their arrest. As detectives continue to track down leads, Villaraigosa and City Councilman Ed Reyes, whose district includes the stadium, called on anyone with information to contact police.
"To the cowards who did this: I know you're watching. We will find you. It would be better for you to turn yourselves in," Reyes said.
Beck he said hoped there wouldn't be a repeat of the violence.
"We will expend whatever resources necessary to keep fans safe at Dodger Stadium. This is going to be a game changer … because we will not suffer this as a city again," Beck said. "People have a right to enjoy the American pastime, and we are going to assure that right."
Times staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.