Massive security presence greets fans at Dodger Stadium

Dodger Stadium was flooded with blue Thursday night, both the Los Angeles Dodgers kind and the LAPD variety, as the team and police cracked down on the kind of hooliganism that nearly killed a San Francisco Giants fan last month.

Three hours before the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals were to begin playing, more than four dozen black-and-white patrol cars were lined up in an impressive formation in a parking lot down a hill from the stadium’s left-field pavilion. As police helicopters whirled overhead, more police officers on motorcycles, and still more on bicycles, circled the cavernous, nearly empty parking lot repeatedly.

Police Chief Charlie Beck said there would be still more inside the stadium, in plainclothes, for the game, which the Cardinals led 6-3 after five innings.

“If you’re threatening, if you’re making comments that could lead to violence, you’re going to get ejected,” he said at a news conference behind the pavilion.

The crackdown was in response to the beating suffered by Bryan Stow of Santa Cruz as he left an opening day game against the Giants with friends.

Stow, who was walking with friends, was attacked from behind and kicked and beaten by two men in Dodger jerseys. Just before the beating he had sent a text message to a family member to say he feared for his safety in the raucous crowd.

No one has been arrested despite the offer of more than $150,000 in reward money from the Dodgers, Giants, Stow’s employer and others, including Giants’ pitching ace Tim Lincecum.

The attack provoked a torrent of anger from fans who complained that in recent years the stadium has become a dangerous den of drunken hooliganism where fights regularly break out in the stands and anyone who dares wear a rival team’s jersey is subjected to profane verbal abuse and threats of violence.

Beck and Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said crime at the ballpark has decreased in recent years but that reports of drunken, abusive behavior has led many fans to believe otherwise. Stow’s beating was, for fans, the last straw.

Beck said a zero-tolerance policy was being adopted toward abusive behavior.

Although Beck said there won’t always be such a massive police presence at Dodgers games as there was Thursday, McCourt said the team is taking measures of its own to ensure things stay calm in and outside the stadium.

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