LOS ANGELES – On Monday morning at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce building, some of the most powerful sports executives in the city gathered to discuss the implementation of a “Southern California Fan Code of Conduct” to protect fans and the venues at which they attend games.
Stan Kasten of the Dodgers, Tim Leiweke and Lee Zeidman of AEG, USC AD Pat Haden and UCLA AD Dan Guerrero were joined by Police Chief Charlie Beck, Sheriff Lee Baca and a number of politicians as the Los Angeles Sports Council announced that 10 common sense rules will now be enforced at all stadiums and arenas in the LA-Orange County-Inland Empire areas.
Here is a portion of the release handed out by the Sports Council, notifying unruly fans that their behavior will no longer be tolerated: • Profanity or other offensive language, whether spoken or appearing on apparel • Smoking, other than in designated areas • Intoxication or excessive alcohol consumption • Bringing prohibited items into the venue • Throwing of items or liquids • Entering the playing field or court at any time • Fighting or other threatening behavior • Failure to retain ticket and/or present it to event staff if requested to do so • Resale of tickets at the venue • Violation of state or local laws
Failure to comply may subject you to ejection or arrest.
“We’re trying to create a fun, family, festive atmosphere,” said Haden “and we think this makes absolute sense. We’re very, very supportive of it. There will be 91,000 people at the Coliseum on Saturday and we want them to have a great time.”
“This is long overdue,” said Zeidman, “and we thank the LA Sports Council for bringing this together.”
In theory, it’s not only sensible, but practical. Do something wrong at a game or a concert, you get bounced, and your name goes on a list of troublemakers available to each team and venue.
Or does it?
No one, from Sports Council president David Simon to Chief Beck or Sheriff Baca, could really answer the question about an “information bank” type of system that could be shared by all involved. They cited the possible legal entanglements of creating such a system, said they would investigate the possibilities and see what could be done. Certainly, it would be much more effective to be able to identify the trouble before it happens, not just react after a Bryan Stow-type incident.
Enter Jerry Powers.
Powers is the Chief Probation Officer for the County of Los Angeles, and heads the one law enforcement division that could actually help prevent much of the violence that takes place at sporting and entertainment events in the area.
The Probation Department cites statistics that show 1 out of every 130 people is on probation in Los Angeles County. Anyone on probation must obey any type of restriction placed on them due to their criminal past. Failure to do so means at the least an arrest and the worst a trip to jail where you could be remanded and forced to serve your entire original sentence.
If someone on probation causes problems at a Southern California event, they’re most likely going to see the world from behind bars for quite a while.
“Exactly,” responded Chief Powers. “If someone gets arrested at one of the local arenas for fighting, they’re placed on probation. So it’s very easy for us—as a condition of probation—to say you can’t go back there. So the question asked earlier about a master list, well, there is one—the probation department list.
“We can tell someone (on probation) that they can’t go back to Dodger Stadium, or we may tell them (they) can’t go to any stadium or sporting event because their behavior is so poor and destructive. Gang members and things like that. We have the ability through probation conditions to say ‘you can’t hang around other individuals who are from your gang.’ We can tell them where they can go or where they can’t go, and who they can associate with.”
Powers also added that he became involved in the project because of the resources the probation Department has that other agencies don’t.
“Probation hadn’t previously been involved in this kind of opportunity,” said Powers, who previously headed Stanislaus County’s probation department and has been in his current position since Dec. 5, 2011. “And I think we can kind of take the enforcement to another level with local security, the Sheriff, LAPD and Pasadena Police. We can assist them, with 1 of 130 fans at any given venue is going to be on probation.
“My probation officers know who they are, we can recognize them, and if they’re being disruptive we can go to them and say ‘leave now’ or you’re going to leave with one of the Sheriffs or (Probation officers) and you’re going to end up going into custody for violation of probation.”
Powers also agreed that it’s much easier to prevent an incident rather than have to react to it.
“If we know that someone is disruptive,” he said, “we can tell them ‘you just can’t go; don’t buy the ticket because it’s just going to be a waste.’ I’ll have probation officers at the venue and if you’re seen there—even just eating popcorn—if you were told not to go there by a probation officer, you’re going to be placed in custody.
“Even if you’re not violating the fan Code of Conduct, the fact that you were told by a probation officer not to go there, it’s grounds enough to violate your probation.”
And if Powers is successful in his program, it could help make fan attendance with the family a more fun—and less stressful—experience.