Hub cops gear up to quell trouble: More than 600 officers hope to prevent rioting.
By Michele McPhee and Dave Wedge
Tuesday, February 1, 2005
Boston police will flood Kenmore Square, Faneuil Hall and any college area ``trouble spots'' with more than 600 city cops and hundreds of representatives from other regional law enforcement agencies, as the Patriots play in the Super Bowl on Sunday night.
``We are going all out this year. It will be a decidedly different night than it was last year,'' said one Boston police supervisor who was briefed on the beef-up.
Last year, the son of a state police trooper was killed during post-Super Bowl victory rioting.
More than 100 of those police officers - assigned to the drug unit and Youth Violence Strike Force - will be in tactical riot gear and positioned at ``key spots'' in the city, including the streets around Fenway Park and outside dormitories around Northeastern University, police sources said.
None of those officers will use the pepper-spray pellet gun, a ``non-lethal'' weapon that accidentally killed 21-year-old Victoria Snelgrove last October, police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole said yesterday.
Snelgrove was shot in the face with a pepper ball fired into an unruly crowd that had begun to riot around Fenway Park, setting cars ablaze and vandalizing property in the wake of the Red Sox' American League championship win over the New York Yankees.
``We've shelved the use of that weapon pending the outcome of our investigation,'' into the Snelgrove shooting, O'Toole said.
Officers will have other crowd-control tools available including pepper Mace or gas canisters if unrest breaks out should the Patriots again win the Super Bowl, O'Toole said.
``Police will have some alternatives available,'' she said. ``We certainly don't want to leave police with guns only or sticks only. We always look to use the least force available to us.''
Among those alternatives will be cops on horseback and police canines trained for crowd control, police sources said.
Boston cops will be assisted by hundreds of officers from regional law enforcement agencies - swelling the number of police representatives to more than 1,000, several sources said. The operation will run out of a unified command center and will be controlled by a Boston police superintendent, another high-ranking police official said.
A similar strategy was used the night the Red Sox won the World Series, the source said.
``We do not anticipate any problems,'' that source said. ``But we will be prepared if we face any.''