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Police boost forces for Series start

Officials weigh suspension of pepper-gun use

Boston police said yesterday they are prepared to make mass arrests to prevent disturbances from turning violent after tonight's first game of the World Series. Authorities also said they will probably suspend use of pepper-pellet guns that officers fired during a wild celebration early Thursday outside Fenway Park, fatally injuring an Emerson College student.

"If we have to execute mass arrests, they'll have buses and vans and tactical officers available," said Police Commissioner Kathleen M. O'Toole. "We need to send a very strong message to the potential troublemakers that we're there in force."

O'Toole said the roughly 700 police officers who were on duty from Boston and other law enforcement agencies early Thursday were adequate to handle the violence and vandalism that erupted after the pennant-clinching victory of the Red Sox over the New York Yankees.

That number will be bolstered by 70 additional Boston officers for tonight and tomorrow's World Series games, according to a police operational plan obtained by the Globe. A police spokeswoman said last night that O'Toole had received authorization to bring in even more officers, though a precise figure was not available.

Officials said about 150 Boston officers worked the night of the Super Bowl in February, when riots led to the death of a young man. The operational plan for Wednesday's baseball game showed that 334 officers worked, including officers from the gang unit, the drug unit, and the special operations unit.

"We hired three times as many as we did for the Super Bowl," O'Toole said. "Numbers had nothing to do with this."

The commissioner also said that the department's pepper guns, which use compressed air to fire small plastic pellets filled with powder, will probably not be used pending an investigation.

"It was represented to us that this [gun] was a very safe option," O'Toole said of the department's desire to have nonlethal weapons available for crowd control. "This sheds an entirely different light on it. We're probably going to suspend use of it until further investigation. I think we have to do it."

Only a handful of Boston officers have been trained to use the weapon, manufactured by FN Herstal, she said. The guns had never been fired outside of training before Thursday.

The review of the weapon's use follows the death of Victoria Snelgrove, 21, of East Bridgewater, who authorities say was shot in the eye with one of the pellets as police tried to disperse a crowd on Lansdowne Street. After the Red Sox victory, a jubilant and relatively peaceful celebration turned destructive, as a crowd estimated by police at 80,000, mostly college age, converged on Fenway Park and Kenmore Square.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino also reached agreement yesterday with 25 bar and restaurant owners in the area to drastically reduce waiting lines outside their establishments and to prohibit television cameras from showing the crowds inside. In a meeting at City Hall, Menino backed away from a possible ban on alcohol sales during the World Series games.

The Red Sox also appealed to their supporters to behave. In a radio interview, pitcher Curt Schilling reminded fans that no victory is worth a death. And in public-service announcements to be made available to television and radio stations, Schilling, David Oritz, Johnny Damon, and Tim Wakefield reiterated the plea.

"Remember: Stay in control. Be responsible," said Ortiz. "Don't be stupid. This is big."

O'Toole met with state and regional police agencies throughout yesterday to discuss plans for bolstering the police presence at tonight's game against the St. Louis Cardinals. "You will see not only the force you saw the other night, but you'll see additional resources," O'Toole said.

State Police, the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department, and specially trained regional police units are expected to complement Boston officers on the streets.

Stung by a scathing review of police response to the Super Bowl celebration in February, when a young man died in riots near Northeastern University, Boston police prepared a much more visible and coordinated strategy for Wednesday night's decisive game.

Standing 25 deep in some places, police wearing riot gear kept watch on the revelers without major problems for more than an hour after the game ended, until vandals began climbing the walls of Fenway Park, setting fires, destroying business property, and tipping cars. As police tried to clear Lansdowne Street behind the ballpark, witnesses said, a bottle was tossed at police, landing near a mounted officer, which startled his horse. The witnesses said the police started firing pepper-pellet guns into the crowd after that. Authorities have not detailed the sequence of events that led to Snelgrove's death.

O'Toole said police accept responsibility for the tragedy, but that help is needed. "We can't do it alone," she said. "We need members of our community, particularly our kids, to step up and accept their share of the responsibility, too."

Danielle Kotzias, 22, a close friend of Snelgrove, said that hearing O'Toole take responsibility for what happened "gave me comfort," but that the statement wasn't enough.

"I don't want this washed under the table," said Kotzias, a senior at Emerson College. "The people who were supposed to protect us in that crazy situation using 'nonlethal weapons' killed my friend."

Bar owners also were asked to monitor the behavior of their patrons. Jim Rooney, who owns The Baseball Tavern near Fenway Park, said owners who met with Menino agreed to keep waiting lines at 20 to 25 people and ask police for help at any sign of disturbance.

Globe correspondents Heather Allen, Elise Castelli, and Julie Polovina contributed to this report.

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