Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Appendix A: Summary of Responses to Spectator Violence in Stadiums

The table below summarizes the responses to abandoned vehicles, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

Venue
Response No.ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
1Creating access barriersPrevents fans from interfering with performances and protects both performers and spectators...fans cannot easily overcome barriersThe barriers should not reduce visibility or cause safety hazards—they can become death traps if a stampede or similar event occurs, so barriers should be constructed to give way safely under extreme pressure
2Providing adequate facilities and proper placementReduces long lines and crowding...facilities are equally accessible to all spectatorsReducing beverage lines could increase alcohol consumption
3Strategically placing stages, sound equipment, and screensHelps to break up larger crowds and maintain seating assignments...spectators can easily view the stages and screens from their assigned seatsMore sound systems may increase volume levels and noise-related frustrations
4Providing adequate and nearby parkingReduces opportunities to engage in violent behaviors...multiple entry and exit points existLarge parking areas provide opportunities for car theft and vandalism. They also create traffic jams and the possibility of conflicts due to frustration at not being able to enter or exit quickly
5Posting signsConveys information to spectators to maintain safety and facilitate movement and activities throughout the stadium...the signs are clearly visible above the crowd but are out of vandals' reachYou may need to have signs printed in other languages, depending on spectator demographics
6Changing venues for "high-risk" eventsCreates a "neutral" environment and reduces tensions between fans and away teams...fans who cannot get to the alternative venue can watch the event on televisionEvent promoters may lose money if residents near the alternative venue are less interested in attending the event; it does not help to prevent post-event celebrations outside the stadium
7Establishing processing and holding areas for spectators who are arrested or refuse to leave the premisesProvides a place to isolate violent spectators from the rest of the crowd...other crowd members cannot see or access the areasYou must make arrangements to transfer the spectators to the local jail or courthouse without disrupting the event
8Redesigning stadium features that facilitate violenceShields possible targets of spectator aggression...spectator aggression is concentrated in particular places in the stadiumMajor renovations can be costly, and owners may not want to invest their resources or shut down their venue to allow these changes
9Providing sectioned and personal seatingHelps to break crowds down into smaller and more-manageable groups, reducing the crowding commonly associated with festival seating...tickets are sold for each individual seat, and ushers can guide spectators to the appropriate seats to avoid disputesThis can reduce the venue's overall capacity and result in revenue loss
Events
10Restricting alcohol salesReduces intoxication-related violence...staff are trained to recognize signs of intoxicationAlcohol sales generate revenue, so the venue may have to raise prices to compensate for a decrease in sales; this increases spectators' incentive to arrive intoxicated or to smuggle alcohol into the event
11Removing disruptive spectatorsLimits the harm that results from their action and prevents the further instigation of other spectators...police target only those engaged in disruptive behaviorsRemoving spectators may require use of force and can instigate other spectators
12Refusing entrance to known troublemakers and intoxicated spectatorsReduces the pool of people willing to engage in violent behavior at the event...staff can recognize those who have been banned and the signs of intoxicationSome fans may not show overt signs of intoxication, despite having consumed large quantities of alcohol
13Screening items brought into the stadiumPrevents spectators from bringing in items that they can use as weapons during altercations...staff can quickly search spectators without delaying entry to the stadiumFemale staff may be needed to search female spectators; metal detectors are expensive
14Reducing situational instigators of violenceEliminates situational factors, both physical and social, that can encourage spectator violence...police are familiar with a particular stadium's "fan culture" and can identify the emergence of new instigatorsIt is difficult to control temperatures in open-air stadiums and noise levels in enclosed arenas
15Controlling the dispersal processPrevents the crowding that results as spectators leave the stadium...after-event activities attract some, but not all, spectatorsAfter-event activities will require additional staffing or personnel hours
16Requiring permits and adherence to entertainment ordinancesNotifies authorities in advance of upcoming events, sets restrictions and standards for the events, and holds hosts accountable for meeting basic requirements...city ordinances governing stadium events are already in placeThe city council may have to pass new legislation
17Advertising penalties for violent behaviorDeters spectator-related violence...laws and sanctions for such behaviors are in place, and spectators view the sanctions as crediblePenalties must be severe enough to offset the perceived benefits of engaging in violent behavior
18Encouraging marketing to age- and gender-diverse crowdsReduces the pool of young adult males...the event can be marketed as "family friendly"This may decrease the popularity of some events. If the family groups are in a completely different part of the stadium from where the young men are, then the advantages are lost. Comingling within the venue may be necessary
Staff
19Establishing an effective command postAids prevention efforts by facilitating information flow...representatives from all agencies are stationed at the postOne agency will need to lead the communication efforts
20Training staff to respond appropriatelyPrepares staff to deal with the complexities of differing crowd dynamics...experienced personnel are on-hand to help those with less crowd experienceSome departments may require more- extensive training
21Using different security "levels"Reduces the need for police personnel...stadium staff members remain consistent from event to eventPolice must be available to provide backup if other personnel cannot effectively handle spectator concerns or conflicts
22Increasing the visibility of securityProvides a visual deterrent to those considering violent behavior...uniformed personnel are placed at strategic points throughout the stadiumToo many uniformed officers may create a hostile atmosphere
23Incorporating technologyImproves surveillance and can eliminate the need for deadly force...security can monitor cameras from a centralized locationUse of nonlethal weapons requires specialized training and can pose safety risks
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
24Relying on reactive tacticsCan limit the extent of injury/damage after violence occurs...violence is an immediate concernIt does little to prevent future violence
25Presenting extreme shows of forceDemonstrates the consequences of behaving violently...the chances of violence are high and well knownIt can increase negative spectator reaction, which may include violence
26Segregating fansSeparates fans of opposing teams...an equal number of fans will be present for both teamsThis may draw attention to the opposing team's supporters, making them more likely to become targets of violence