LAPD cracks down on drinking at Dodgers opener

ELYSIAN PARK, Calif. Hours before the season opener, Dodgers fans were in the mood to party. Just outside the stadium in Elysian Park, steaks were sizzling on the grills and cold drinks were chilling on ice. This year though, police are cracking down on public drinking.

Early Tuesday morning, dozens of LAPD officers started patrolling the streets and the park areas around the stadium, clearing out people who were camping illegally and warning everyone not to bring alcoholic beverages to the park.

"It's kind of like a carnival-like atmosphere, and the problems it creates for us for later with the fights here in the park and later in the stadium has created a number of problems for us" said LAPD Capt. David Lindsey.

"The people that come out here, they come just to have a good time. Yeah, I'm not going to lie, we drink beers, of course, but it's all peaceful and a 'go Dodgers' kind of thing," said Dodgers fan Viviana Villarreal.

To ease traffic tie-ups, authorities didn't allow drivers to line up near the entrances until the gates opened at 10 a.m. At the end of last year's Dodgers home opener, a man was stabbed several times in the parking lot after he got into a fight with a group of men.

"It's very disappointing that it has to come to this level, but I understand," said Dodgers fan Eddie Barrios.

Police believe that enforcing the ban on pregame public drinking will prevent some of the problems, and many fans agree.

"Last year was pretty bad. It's good now, they're doing their job," said Dodgers fan Ronnie Jimenez. "Serve and protect. We respect that."

"I think everybody respects that the police are here to keep it under control and not to hassle them," said another fan, Linda Pita.

People caught violating the pregame drinking ban are subject to warnings and possibly citations, but police emphasize that their goal is to make it a safe and fun afternoon for the afternoon opening game.

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