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Should Specially Trained Citizens Mingle With Crowds at Public Events to Prevent Outbreaks of Violence?

In light of the nearly fatal attack on a Giants fan at Dodger Stadium last week, is it time to extend Neighborhood Watch to large public events?

The Scene: The parking lot of Dodger Stadium, about 9:30 p.m., after the 2-1 Dodgers victory over the Giants on March 31. Two young men dressed in Dodger clothing yell provocative slurs and then attack three men whose clothes suggest they are Giants fans. One of the assailants sucker-punches one of the Giants fans in the head and then both the assailants repeatedly kick him violently. Other Dodgers fans intervene to prevent further assaults.

The victim, a 41-year-old paramedic from Santa Cruz, CA, is later hospitalized in a critical but stable condition. Security in the stadium’s parking lots is practically nonexistent. The LAPD, whose officers are mainly stationed at the stadium gate, says it’s the responsibility of the Dodgers to provide security in parking lots.

The assailants flee, even though there are people everywhere. “Unfortunately, no one tried to detain them,” says Detective José Carrillo, the lead investigator in the case. Rewards totaling $100,000 have reportedly been offered for information leading to the suspects’ arrest, including a $50,000 reward voted on by the Los Angeles City Council just yesterday.

Question: Given how under-staffed the LAPD is, do you think it’s a good idea for trained members of the public to mingle with crowds during large public events so that they can not only try to stop any violence that occurs but detain assailants until additional security arrives? Further, do you think that the presence of such volunteers in public crowds will act as some sort of deterrent?

David Markland April 07, 2011 at 05:10 PM
Ajay - even the best trained neighborhood watch is told not to detain suspects. And if some sort of sanctioned group were to officially step up to the plate to intervene, and one of its members were injured, there would be hell to pay. There's much to be said about thinking proactively, but I don't think this particular approach would fly. However, it is incredibly disturbing that nobody intervened in this case. I'd like to think that people were too stunned to know how to react, but I fear there were too many cowards around or people who didn't think it was their business, or worse, people enjoyed witnessing the violence. You're either part of the solution or part of the problem; anyone who saw what was happening and did nothing were complicit in the violence. Sadly, we live in a society where people expect the police to fix all crime, but nobody wants to cooperate as a witness for fear of being labeled a snitch or that they'll be inconvenienced with having to give a statement or possibly testify.
Mike Woodward April 07, 2011 at 06:09 PM
Hi Ajay, I hate to go against the current, but I think your idea has a certain merit. I don't believe in citizen patrols enforcing the law as that's dangerous for everyone. I do believe in being a citizen and helping out someone in trouble. That doesn't mean that you have to put yourself at risk by physically intervening. But you can't tell me that no one in that crowd had a cell phone or camera with which they could have taken a picture of the assailants. Citizenship ought to begin with the citizens.
Ajay Singh April 07, 2011 at 06:48 PM
Thanks, David and Mike, for your candid, clear-eyed comments. This whole idea was inspired by the lead detective in the Dodgers bashing telling me that "unfortunately, nobody tried to detain" the suspects. I know that's a cop talking. But I thought to myself: What if the bloke who was nearly killed were my brother, my son, father, friend ... Would I care a damn about the precise social or economic or political status of whoever might have helped save his life—whether it were a cop, some other sworn officer, a security guard, or just a stranger who cared enough.
Ken Camp April 07, 2011 at 06:48 PM
I think we should begin with portable guillotines set up outside Dodger Stadium. And the chopping can begin with McCourt. Ken Camp, Los Angeles
Chip April 07, 2011 at 07:08 PM
@Mike- You are absolutely right that bystanders should have taken cel phone pics of the incident to assist the LAPD in identifying the assailants. This is a very good idea to remember when any of us are witness to such a situation.

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