Police ready for Game 7 revelry
Boston police are preparing a show of force for tonight’s Stanley Cup Finals game between the Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks, hoping to blunt the gratuitous postchampionship game violence and property destruction that has become too common.
Since 2004, three people have died on city streets during revelry that turned into riots.
Although tonight’s game is in Vancouver, Boston police plan to deploy hundreds of officers to patrol the streets around Fenway Park and TD Garden, neighborhoods full of sports bars where crowds congregate during out-of-town championship games.
“We expect fans will celebrate safely,’’ said Dot Joyce, a spokes woman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “Sadly, we now have a playbook to deal with these situations, and the Police Department has put together responsible plans to ensure everyone’s safety.’’
In recent days, police have called restaurant and bar owners to review the plan, which includes requiring staff to lock or remove any outdoor furniture before the game ends, black out windows to keep people from crowding around them to watch televisions inside, and ban customers from entering after the second period ends.
Elaine Driscoll, a spokeswoman for the Boston Police Department, said officers will use barriers to block streets around the Garden and the Fenway to prevent entry after the game. They will also enforce laws banning public drinking and driving under the influence.
“Compliance with alcohol laws will be strictly enforced,’’ she said, advising anyone who comes to the area to use public transportation or taxis.
She said surveillance cameras will be used throughout the city, but there will be no mounted patrols, because the Police Department no longer has such units. She said the Police Department will work with State Police and MBTA Transit Police.
Driscoll declined to say how many officers will be on duty or whether tonight’s show of force will differ from that of previous years.
“More than anything, we encourage people to celebrate responsibly,’’ she said. “It’s important for individuals to remember to follow police instructions. If officers ask you to leave an area, please do so quickly and respectfully.’’
The police cordon will echo similar efforts over the past decade. Officers began swarming the areas in 2002 when the Patriots won the first of three Super Bowls. Since then, the Red Sox have won two World Series, and the Celtics won and lost a championship.
Police crowd control efforts have had varying success over the years. In 2004, James Grabowski, 21, died after being hit by a drunken driver during rioting after the Super Bowl. Later that year, Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove died after police fired pepper pellets into a crowd celebrating a Red Sox victory.
Most recently, in 2008, David Woodman, a 22-year-old Emmanuel College student, stopped breathing and died after a confrontation with police after the Celtics beat the Lakers.
Police were criticized in each of those cases, and the city paid $5 million to settle a civil lawsuit brought by Snelgrove’s family.
Joe Pesaturo, an MBTA spokesman, said all stations will remain open tonight. He said Transit Police will increase their presence around North Station.
Restaurateurs said they will comply with police requests.
At The Four’s on Canal Street, Peter Colton, the manager, said he will have extra security inside and outside to deal with what he expects to be a capacity crowd of nearly 400 people.
He expects the crowds in the area to be smaller than previous championships’ crowds, since most college students have left town.
“They’re often the reason for most of the problems, and without them around, I think that will help the situation a lot,’’ Colton said.
At the neighboring Boston Beer Works, the staff is accustomed to the drill of preparing for a championship game.
“At this point, we have this down,’’ said Joe Ferrari, the manager. “We want the victory, and we want people to celebrate. We just don’t want them to turn over cars or do other stupid things.’’
David Abel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.