Sunday, August 28, 2011

NFL security chief attends 49ers game

A heavy police presence at Candlestick Park kept the peace during Saturday's 49ers game, a relief for sports fans and officials horrified by violence at last week's game where two men were shot and numerous fights resulted in bloodshed.
San Francisco police spokesman Albie Esparza said drunken outbursts and violent incidents were "way below" average at Saturday's 49ers game against the Houston Texans at Candlestick, which ended in a 30-7 Houston victory.
At the end of the night, there was one arrest, 12 people ejected from the game, and two people cited for public intoxication.
Last week, two men were shot in a parking lot outside the stadium following San Francisco's 17-3 win over the Bay Area rival Oakland Raiders. There were also numerous fights inside the stadium, including one man getting beaten unconscious in a bathroom.
NFL security chief Jeff Miller called the violence "unsettling," and something the NFL is taking seriously and plans to "change."
Fans said this week's matchup was a whole different ballgame, so to speak.
Alex Enriquez, 24, of Santa Rosa chalked up some of the violence at last week's game to the charged atmosphere that the rivalry between the team and the cross-town Oakland Raiders generates.
"Raiders-Niners games are for adults," Enriquez said as he barbecued in a Candlestick Park parking lot with his two kids before the game against the Houston Texans. "People come for the controversy."
Other tailgaters shared Enriquez's sentiment. Some said they welcomed the team's additional security measures following Saturday's violence.
The 49ers announced that they were banning tailgating once the game starts. They also said they would have additional police at games and postgame DUI checkpoints. A large sign above the first tier of seats that was put up after last week's violence encouraged fans to text a five-digit number to "report unruly behavior."
The police and security presence during Saturday's game appeared to be greater than usual. Police officers on foot patrolled throughout the parking lots outside the park and also inside the stadium, while other officers monitored the scene on motorcycles and in golf carts.
Officers asked tailgaters to go into the stadium after kickoff in accordance with the new rules.
Miller praised police for engaging fans and making their presence felt early in the day and said the 49ers security measures would improve fan safety.
"Granted there's not as many people here and it's not exactly the same demographic as last week but I think the plan that the (49ers) demonstrated and what they're doing and the commitment they've shown to it is exemplary and I think it will carry forward throughout the entire season and create a safe environment for the fans here at Candlestick Park."
Cecilia Apostol, who attended last week's game, said she was concerned about her safety and called the 49ers afterward to inquire about security.
"Once in a while you see fights, but last week was worse," Apostol said. She was with her daughter, son-in law and 12- and 5-year-old grandchildren tailgating in the parking lot.
Apostol bought a prepaid parking pass for Saturday's game to be closer to the stadium, where she said she thought she would be safer.
Team spokesman Steve Weakland would not say how many additional officers and security officials would be present on Saturday.More...

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