Hundreds of officers will patrol the area around Fenway Park while more than a dozen bomb technicians scour for explosives Wednesday, when the World Series kicks off in Boston. This year, the sporting event has prompted a modified security plan by law enforcement officials still rattled by the Boston Marathon bombings in April.
“It’s our primary focus that this is a peaceful and safe event,” said Boston police Superintendent-in-Chief Daniel Linskey during a press conference at City Hall.
Boston police will have about 500 officers around the park Wednesday, officials said, far fewer than the thousands who will be out in force to control crowds in the event of a Series-deciding home game.
In a departure from previous events, 14 officers who specialize in finding and dismantling bombs and a supervisor have been assigned to conduct protective sweeps at the park and the areas around it for the first two games, according to internal documents about the department’s security plan. That is nearly twice as many than were assigned to sweep the Duck Boats at the Bruins celebration parade in 2011 and several more than were assigned to the Boston Marathon in April, when bombs killed three people and injured more than 260.
During Tuesday’s press conference in the Eagle Room, police and city officials said little about how the bomb attacks have directly influenced the security plan for the World Series, but it’s clear that some things are different.
“Obviously things have changed in our world but we’ve got the benefit of all those citizens of Boston who were with us on April 15 who will be with us . . . tomorrow,” Linskey said. “Everyone has been very much keeping an eye out for each other in keeping the city safe.”
Linskey said he expects fans to alert police about any suspicious activity, and he called on fans to not wear backpacks around Fenway Park: Investigators have said the Marathon bombing suspects used backpacks to carry the pressure cooker bombs that detonated near the finish line.
Much of the rest of the security plan rings familiar — over the past 11 years, all four of Boston’s professional sports teams have won champions.
On Tuesday, city officials urged fans to take public transportation. Bar owners were told to disperse any crowds lined up outside their establishments once they are full. During a Series-clinching game, cars in garages and lots around Fenway or Kenmore will not be able to leave after the seventh inning.
Linskey said police will take advantage of social media, using sites like Twitter and Facebook to tell fans to stay away from the Kenmore Square area if celebrations become too raucous.
Over the years, sports-championship celebrations have strained police resources and led to multiple deaths, most recently in 2008, when David Woodman, a 22-year-old Emmanuel College student, stopped breathing after a confrontation with police after the Celtics victory over the Lakers.
In 2004, a 21-year-old man was killed by a drunk driver during rioting after the Super Bowl. Later that year, police fired pepper pellets into a crowd celebrating a Red Sox victory; an Emerson College student, Victoria Snelgrove, was struck and killed.
In response to criticism that Boston police were often too aggressive in dealing with large crowds, the department has changed its tactics: While the department still floods streets with officers, they no longer don intimidating riot gear. Instead, officers keep that equipment in their cars, to be used only in case crowds become too rowdy.
When the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, Boston police were nationally praised for keeping crowds calm and avoiding ugly confrontations.
“We used to put our equipment on and show people we were ready for a fight,” Linskey said. But now, “we want to show that we’re ready for a celebration.”
The City Hall press conference Tuesday — which officials dubbed a “pep conference” — had lighthearted moments.
Wally, the Red Sox mascot, stood by, nodding his giant green head as officials praised the team.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino, known for bungling the names of Boston’s star athletes, made yet another sports flub when he said he was excited to watch the Red Sox “bring back the World Series cup to Boston.”
Menino also said he was disappointed that there would be no bets between him and the mayor of St. Louis, one of those traditional wagers that involve regional treats like chowder and Sam Adams from Boston or toasted ravioli and Bissinger chocolate from St. Louis.
“The mayor of St. Louis said he’s too busy,” Menino said.
A spokeswoman for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay confirmed Menino’s account, adding that the Cardinals had won so many World Series in recent years that betting felt excessive.
“The mayor just started feeling bad about always collecting the winnings,” Slay’s spokeswoman, Maggie Crane, said.