Charles Celluci with Usher Al Green, a 37-year veteran at Fenway Park.
Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox
Boston Red Sox Director of Security Charles J. Cellucci is applying the tenets of effective community policing to a successful program of safety and security in Fenway Park. Just as scouts describe the best ballplayers as "five tool players," Cellucci’s approach can be summarized as the "Five Tool Strategy," which includes:
The director developed his community policing practice during 33 years in the Boston Police Department (BPD), several of which he spent as commander of the city’s most diverse police district. He also designed the tactical response plan for the City of Boston’s security strategy for the 2004 Democratic National Convention. That prepared him for protecting Fenway Park’s 3 million annual patrons from potential terrorism-related violence. Fenway is one of the top three most likely targets of terrorism in Boston, according to an analysis by the Department of Homeland Security.
"Our mission," he says, describing his work as he scanned the ballpark from his command post beside the press box at a recent day game against Kansas City, "is to ensure that the families and individuals who attend a Red Sox game are safe and secure, that they enjoy their time at the park. We achieve that goal by being pro-active and community-oriented."
The community has noticed. Red Sox market research shows very high customer satisfaction with the Fenway experience, with the new security strategy a significant contributor.
Cellucci took over security as the 2004 baseball season was getting underway. As the plan became fully operational, including making it easier and more worthwhile for fans to report problems, problems have declined steadily, in both the number of reported incidents and in the level of seriousness.
Where others look at a sold-out Fenway Park and see "the crowd," Cellucci and his team see a community. Fenway Park in their view is a community of over 39,000 residents, on 81 days of the year. They have set up a decentralized, geographic command model, which requires personnel to take ownership and accept accountability for maintaining order in their "zones." Each zone is headed by a zone commander and staffed by zone supervisors and line staff. The community stewards are the
season ticket holders who make up 63 percent of fans. These are often large groups with a handful of owners who make every game. The zone personnel are expected to get to know these regulars and
work with them.
John McDermott is one of the 140 security staff on duty at each home game. He commands Zone 5, comprising the upper section of the horseshoe that curves between the two dugouts. It is a diverse area, made up of luxury boxes and standing-room-only. Zone 5 personnel practice the same approach with everyone. When dealing with standing room groups with a potential for disorder—for example, members of a bachelor party—they make a point of establishing a rapport with the leaders.
"If you interact with them early on," McDermott said, "later you have them as allies of sorts who will be much quicker to settle their own people should problems arise."
Communication: The Code of Conduct
Everything starts with the Code of Conduct: "a line-up" of nine tenets of acceptable Fenway behavior. The Sox display the Code on the park’s big centerfield screen before the first pitch and twice more during games. The Code requires collaboration between fans and staff. It communicates expectations to the Fenway Park community and serves as operating guidelines for security staff.
A Security Hotline for voice and text provides fans with a "9-1-1" to get help with violations of the code, should the behavior go unnoticed by the watchful staff. James Gustowski, commander of Zone 1, covering the right field grandstand and gates, said that fan confidence in security has enhanced effectiveness. "At least one half of the ejections in right field originate with a call or text to us from fans."
Electronic systems operated by trained personnel back up the staff.
All emergency services, including medical services, are coordinated by trained staff operating in a dispatch center in the recesses of the 99 year-old park. They handle calls and text messages that come in from the community and dispatch them out to the appropriate zone personnel.
Closed circuit TV cameras, operated by a trained staff member, serve as another integral support system. The operator can follow any person or incident in or around the park from the video center. For example, he follows ejected fans as they leave the ballpark. He found that some persistent offenders buy new tickets from scalpers, change some clothing and try to re-enter at a different gate. Video monitor Dave Morrow and Operations Manager Mark Cacciatore say the disguises usually fail, as men do not change their shoes, and women continue to carry the same handbags. "They never change those," Morrow smiled.
Every game is a community policing “shift.” All Red Sox Security staff members receive detailed assignments for pregame, game, and post game. The roster, distributed to every member of the staff, includes everyone’s geographic assignments, call signs and any special assignments (based on VIP visits, etc).
Staff also coordinate closely with the detail of 35–52 BPD personnel hired for each home game. BPD Captain Jim Hussey said, “Since Charlie Cellucci took over, our job is significantly easier. His people are well-trained and have a great attitude. It’s a win-win for us, the fans, and the team.”
The security team builds coordination on a foundation of training that takes place pre-season. Every staff member is schooled in the basics of community-based homeland security practices, customer service, and crime prevention. Staff also meet regularly during the season to do after-action learning and to anticipate potential challenges at upcoming events.
Supervisors like Don Bowes see their job as prevention. Bowes is supervisor in Zone 2. His “beat” is gate A on Yawkey Way. The screening at the gate is probably the most critical step in the strategy. At the screening and at the turnstile, security personnel synthesize homeland security with community policing. Entering patrons get a smile and polite attitude from security staff—along with a thorough search of their bags, a pat down if deemed necessary, and a scan to check for possible alcohol or
Staff regularly refuse entry to such individuals.
In light of some incidents involving visiting fans at major league ballparks this season, Cellucci hand-picked some seasoned staffers to go under cover in (what else?) Yankees hats and t-shirts, to measure how such fans fared in Red Sox Nation. He has been pleasantly surprised to find that the mock Yankees fans reported nothing worse than ribbing and some good-natured name-calling. “Nothing,” the director reports, "over the top."
Incidents inside the park track with beer consumption. Staff see a spike in reported incidents before the game, when the gates open. These incidents involve drunken fans who are denied admission or ejected early in the game. The numbers drop in the first couple of innings, slowly rising in the middle innings before dropping dramatically after alcohol sales stop at the end of the seventh inning or 2.5 hours after the gates open (whichever comes first).
On a warm summer day, the Royals game reached the end of the seventh. Director Cellucci gave the order to stop all alcohol sales in the ballpark. Though the Sox were trailing (and would lose 4–3),
Red Sox Security had just rounded third en route to another successful day in the community called Fenway Park.
- Jim Jordan
Policing Consultant and Educator and
former Strategic Planning Director
at the Boston Police Department
-Brett S. Jordan
Political Science major at
Washington University in St. Louis