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?

Hershel April 06, 2011 at 02:35 PM
Where do you come up with these boneheaded ideas? You have a "Spin the Bonehead Wheel" on your office wall? The McCourt's might need volunteer security? Think, man. Multi-millionaires who own sports teams, and don't pay taxes, need to spend a few dollars on security, or risk lawsuits when fans get brained in the parking lot. Volunteers? Spin the wheel again.
Ajay Singh (Editor) April 06, 2011 at 04:59 PM
Hershel: Allow me to spin my bonehead wheel once again. Tax-dodging multi-millionaires need to spend more than a few dollars on security—but they don't. Besides, why would those same millionaires not also prevail in court if sued? (But then again, maybe all those brilliant minds—especially NIMBY-type lawyers who have so valiantly held out against the 710—need to pick up the *public* safety gauntlet as well.) My idea wasn't just limited to Dodger Stadium—where, I don't mind adding, it could have been your head or mine—it's about the potential for violent crime in public places generally, especially well-attended ones where assailants can flee under crowd cover. My essential point is: We devise ways to increase our personal security through such community-based organizations as the Neighborhood Watch. Why not go a step further and extend such ideas into the wider public sphere?
Hershel April 06, 2011 at 06:09 PM
The wheel ended up in the same place. Even if your proposal was logical or feasible ("Let's get all our tough martial artist friends to spend their spare time volunteering to work pro bono for cheap millionaires."), it's ethically boneheaded as well. It's the same sort of thinking that leads school administrators to ask teachers to volunteer their lunch and after-school hours for the honor of working hard for free, and politicians to ask for volunteers to man libraries. It's a nice way for people who have high paying jobs to ask those who don't to sacrifice, so that they, the folks in charge, do not have to hire people for a fair wage. And they always find somebody to taut their agenda under the guise of community service. There are people who are trained and are supposed to be paid to do jobs, and here we are discussing the option of doing it for free, so that people with money can make more money, and people who should be hired to do these jobs remain unemployed. Me? I wouldn't spend a cent on the Dodgers so long as the McCourts are in charge. And when I volunteer my time, it's for those who have no resources.
Ajay Singh (Editor) April 06, 2011 at 06:31 PM
Hershel: I'm beginning to think you have the same wheel I do, with one crucial difference—mine was crafted by a realist, yours by some idealist, and here's why I think that is so: You're hoping our broken system will fix itself if enough people express their outrage (but actually *do nothing* about it). I'm not sanguine that words will fix the system, and therefore propose a feasible course of action. The other thing is, as I mentioned earlier, this isn't just about the Dodgers or the McCourts or indeed about any number of the rich. It's about getting ordinary citizens involved in trying to prevent violent crime that, I don't mind adding, appears to disproportionately hit precisely those people you say you don't mind volunteering your time for.
Hershel April 06, 2011 at 06:54 PM
You are either avoiding the point or oblivious it: Why do you propose that people do for free what people like the McCourts are able & obligated to do? Expressing indignation is not a solution? I do not spend my money on the McCourts, but you propose working for them for free. Whose solution is more effective and to the point? I support people who should be hired to do hard work, but you propose we volunteer those hours so that people like the McCourts can save more money while those people who should be hired to do the work struggle to find employment. I vote my outrage. Is that not effective? And of course this isn't just about the McCourts. They are merely the microcosm that you chose to represent a bigger point. And for you to suggest that expressing outrage is less realistic than working FOR FREE for the people committing outrages... This isn't realism, it's shilling for the bad guy. Don't give your money to lousy people. Complain when they act lousy. And if you see someone getting their head kicked in, help them. But for Christ's sake, don't do the lousy person's work for them.
Sean April 06, 2011 at 07:26 PM
Hershel, Maybe you haven't been on Eagle Rock Patch before. Your spin-the-wheel analogy isn't bad, but pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey is more apt. The writers appear to be operating on a quota system where articles are seemingly written quicker than the writer has time to think. So they come up with a wacky concept ("Volunteer hours for Millionaires"), write, submit, and then wait for the reader to either praise their brilliance or point out their ignorance. Either way, they seem excited to be read by SOMEONE. Some of the writers then apologize for their glaring errors, while the more truculent ones, like Ajay here, defends to the death. Don't take the pseudo-journalism too seriously, I advise. Enjoy the local comedy. Volunteer your time for millionaires... heh-heh. Good idea.
Chip April 06, 2011 at 07:38 PM
@Ajay- Sorry, but your idea is not good, impractical and serves merely to absolve the responsible parties (i.e. the McCourts and the Dodger organization) of responsibility. I offer my opinion because you asked for it. I hope you will not disparage my "wheel" and focus instead on my analysis. The beatdown happened because the McCourts and the Dodger organization did not - and do not - provide adequate security for the size of the crowd and, more importantly, the drunkeness of the crowd. It is their responsibility to do so. The safety of baseball fans while on Dodger property is the responsibilty of the stadium. Taking your suggestion to its logical extreme: if a nuclear reactor had an accident and victims died of radiation - instead of requiring the nuclear plant company to install appropriate safeguards, you would instead station volunteer civilians at the nuclear plant to keep an eye out and do the company's work for them. If a drunk thug was harassing me after a Dodgers game, I would prefer an LAPD officer or Dodger security personnel be present to provide protection to me rather than some volunteer who is NOT under any legal obligation to protect me and might decide to look the other way instead of being beat down, stabbed or shot. This is why your suggestion does not hold water.
Ajay Singh (Editor) April 06, 2011 at 08:13 PM
Thanks, Chip. Let's put it this way: If a drunk thug were harassing you after a Dodgers game and there's neither an LAPD officer nor a Dodger security guard present, would you be thankful for some tactful help from a member of the public or would you spurn it because the McCourts aren't doing enough to protect you? Other viewpoints, dissenting or not, are most welcome!
Chip April 06, 2011 at 08:31 PM
If a drunk thug assaulted me after a Dodgers game and there was neither an LAPD officer nor a Dodger security guard present, I would sue the McCourts and the Dodger organization for a tidy sum. And by tidy, I mean when I recovered from my injuries I would be sipping a Pina Colada and commenting on Tahiti Patch.
Ajay Singh (Editor) April 06, 2011 at 08:33 PM
Now you're talking, Chip! I knew there was a catch. :)
Hulga April 06, 2011 at 10:04 PM
This should be the actual definition of paid blogging gigs.
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 (Editor) 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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