Police brace for more rioting

By Jen Hirsch

‘ ‘ ‘ The men’s basketball team has advanced to the next round of the NCAA Tournament, but its… ‘ ‘ ‘ The men’s basketball team has advanced to the next round of the NCAA Tournament, but its victory is bittersweet for Pittsburgh’s police officers. ‘ ‘ ‘ Sunday’s win left one ominous thought on Pitt police Chief Tim Delaney’s mind: Riots. ‘ ‘ ‘ Until the Steelers won the Super Bowl in February, Oakland had never seen this type of destructive celebration, said Delaney. ‘ ‘ ‘ So, the Pitt police have joined forces with emergency response teams and the University to prepare for potential riots if the Panthers win the NCAA championship game. ‘ ‘ ‘ Delaney and his colleagues designed a Civil Disturbance Plan using data collected after the Super Bowl. ‘ ‘ ‘ More than 40 fire alarms were set off during the riots, said Delaney, the majority of which occurred in a 12-block radius south of Forbes Avenue in Central Oakland. ‘ ‘ ‘ The police will place additional fire prevention equipment at these locations as well as warning signs reading, ‘Celebrate our victory with style by refraining from criminal acts,’ he said. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘The students at Pitt aren’t all jerks. There are a lot of good kids,’ said Delaney. ‘We just have to target that small core.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Crowd control also means regulating an influx of people who live off campus and come to Pitt to celebrate. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Oakland is starting to become a meeting place after we have victories,’ said Delaney. ‘ ‘ ‘ Police will block entrances to campus and put barricades on Forbes Avenue to thin the crowd, he said. ‘ ‘ ‘ He demonstrated his new tactics with video footage of the Super Bowl riots, in which he highlighted the spontaneous change in the crowd’s direction toward the Cathedral of Learning. ‘ ‘ ‘ It was my ‘we’re going to need a bigger boat’ moment, said Delaney, as he rewatched the ‘tsunami’ of fans run to Bigelow Boulevard. ‘ ‘ ‘ Delaney estimated that 10,000 people came out to celebrate that night, but only 125 police were on duty. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘The police need to do more before the rioting begins to give people the feeling that they are being watched and … will be punished for misbehavior,’ said Pitt psychology professor Richard Moreland. ‘ ‘ ‘ Delaney agreed and said the police are trying to send the message to students that if they get out of control, they will be held accountable for their actions. ‘ ‘ ‘ If they bring couches, illegal fireworks or lighter fluid, ‘they’re going to get trounced,’ he said. ‘ ‘ ‘ Students need to think three or four years down the road, he added. No one will want to hire them if they have been arrested for destroying public property, he said. ‘ ‘ ‘ Delaney also said he believed the celebrations spiraled out of control after the Super Bowl because ‘the crowd had nothing to do.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ He suggested the University place a large television outside the William Pitt Union for students to watch the game. This would allow police to monitor crowd activity from the start, he said.