Boston Police are mobilizing for this weekend's do-or-die Red Sox-Yankees series with the largest crowd-control force of any recent sports event and with a deployment plan that addresses shortcomings found to have contributed to a fan's fatal shooting by police last October.
A draft deployment plan, dated yesterday and obtained by the Globe, calls for 876 officers and commanders to be on duty for each of the three games starting tonight: 558 from Boston and 318 more from the State Police, the state Correction Department, and several other police departments. The plan focuses on how to keep celebrations from getting out of hand if the Sox clinch a playoff berth.
When the Red Sox beat the Yankees to win the American League championship last October, thousands of fans overwhelmed the 334 police officers assigned citywide. As police tried to control the surging crowds around Fenway Park, several officers fired pepper-pellet guns, killing 21-year-old Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove and injuring two other fans.
The department has been training officers to control crowds without using any of the devices known as ''less-lethal weapons," such as the pepper-pellet gun that has been shelved since Snelgrove's death.
An officer with direct knowledge of the training said the drug, gang, special operations, horse, canine, and bicycle patrol units have all been receiving extensive additional riot control training at the department firing range on Moon Island for several weeks. They have been practicing ''crowd control without weapons," he said, using officers armed only with batons and pepper spray to push crowds back.
The officer, who didn't want to be named because department policy bans talking to the media without permission, said police have been rehearsing on Moon Island how to deal with mobs in different areas near Fenway and have simulated crowd control in areas of different sizes and shapes. Lansdowne Street, where Snelgrove was shot behind Fenway Park, is narrow and long, while Kenmore Square is open and large.
The operational plan also says that only Police Commissioner Kathleen M. O'Toole or Superintendent Robert Dunford, her top-ranking deputy, can authorize the use of tear gas or crowd control weapons such as guns that fire rubber bullets, unless a field commander believes that lives are in danger.
Department officials declined to comment yesterday on the crowd control plan for the Yankees series.
''The plan continues to evolve," said Sergeant Thomas Sexton, a department spokesman. ''We're not prepared to make any comment pertaining to the Red Sox."
The 54-page operational plan obtained by the Globe, however, includes several changes that appear to take into account findings from an independent panel and the district attorney's office, which both concluded that poor planning, inadequate training, and bad judgment by individual officers contributed to Snelgrove's death. The officers involved will not face criminal charges, but one commander was demoted, and two officers were suspended.
The plan says that a platoon of riot control officers will be deployed to Lansdowne Street. The independent panel, led by former US Attorney Donald K. Stern, criticized department officials for failing to put riot officers on Lansdowne Street. Fans climbed the girders of the Green Monster, set fires, and threw bottles at police horses before Snelgrove was shot.
The plan also makes changes in command structure from last October, and calls on more higher-ranking officers to be on duty. Deputy Superintendent Darrin Greeley is to serve as overall field commander and will not have any other command duties. Dozens of other high-ranking officers will be in charge of specific intersections and possible hot spots. The head of special operations will stay at police headquarters to coordinate riot control and other specialized units.
The Stern panel criticized police for allowing the deputy superintendent, Robert E. O'Toole, to serve as field commander as well as commander in charge of operations on Lansdowne Street. O'Toole, who decided to deploy the weapon that killed Snelgrove, retired in June.
As for the World Series last year, the plan for this weekend calls for police to keep fans from converging in a mob around Fenway Park after the game. Steel barriers will be erected to keep crowds on Brookline Avenue and Yawkey Way separated and also along Lansdowne. Last October, the area around Fenway was flooded by fans.
The plan points out that the three-game series will probably determine which team makes the playoffs and that if the Sox clinch a postseason spot, there will be much revelry. ''The Department and our Law Enforcement partners will ensure that fans are able to celebrate but will not tolerate disorder, property destruction, [or] reckless behavior that endangers themselves and others."
Suzanne Smalley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org