Away from stadium, area crime drops during big Redskins games

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Local,Crime,Scott McCabe

Any D.C.-area beat cop will tell you that police incidents decrease during a big Washington Redskins game.

But around the stadium and after the game are different stories.

With the Redskins playing in their first home playoff game in 13 years, area police departments say they are ready. The Redskins take on the Seattle Seahawks in a wild-card game Sunday afternoon.

Julie Parker, a spokeswoman for Prince George's County Police Department, said the agency will have more than 200 officers deployed at the FedEx Field in Landover on Sunday. That's dozens more than typically used for a regular-season game.

"The allotment of extra measures is a fluid situation and is constantly being evaluated as the game nears," Parker said.

Redskins team spokesman Tony Wyllie wouldn't discuss the security plans but said the goal is to make FedEx Field the "most fan-friendly and safest stadium in the world."

Uniformed officers will direct traffic, man the parking lots, patrol inside and outside the stadium and work as cash escorts, officials said.

Some of the officers won't be visible. Plain-clothes officers will work around the gates and inside the stadium.

The game also will be policed by Homeland Security officials and intelligence units, and the NFL hires its own people to look out for unlicensed vendors.

Parker said there is no evidence that the number of arrests at the stadium rise along with implications of the contests.

She did not provide crime statistics surrounding the games but said the average number of arrests at FedEx Field is "on the low end compared to other venues in the league."

One veteran officer who has worked Redskins games for years said Sunday will be a long one for the officers. "There are a lot of fights; we have that every game," said the officer, who agreed to speak on the condition that he not be identified because he had not been approved to speak.

And when it's over, everyone tries to leave at once -- presenting more problems and more fights.

But away from the stadium, in the District and the surrounding communities, it should feel unusually quiet.

"There's a palpable and obvious decrease in incidents," said another longtime Prince George's County law enforcement officer. "Traffic dies down, and the calls slow. It's like the Super Bowl. It's only after the game that people tend to let the badger loose."

smccabe@washingtonexaminer.com

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