Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tucson Police Gearing Up To Thwart UA Hoops Hysteria

Posted By on Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 11:00 AM

It's March, which for most of the country means the gradual release of winter's icy cold grip into a world of warming trends and budding blooms.

In Tucson, it means time to elevate UA basketball excitement to feverish levels.

How crazy is this town for "our Cats?" Tucson police are conducting training exercises Wednesday afternoon to work on tactics dealing with the many different ways that fans might ... celebrate a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

The exercises, scheduled for 3 p.m. at the academy training center on Wilmot Road south of Interstate 10, are meant to help police prepare for postgame celebrations and activities "in anticipation of the U of A men's basketball team's success in the upcoming NCAA tournament," according to an email sent out Monday by TPD spokesman Sgt. Chris Widmer.

(As if the Wildcats didn't have enough pressure from fans and the media to succeed, now it's got to live up to law enforcement expectations)

In all seriousness, such an action plan is well-warranted, as anyone who was in Tucson in 2001 can attest. While the 1997 celebrations following Arizona's surprising run to the NCAA championship were more of the impromptu, hey-isn't-this-awesome? variety — as a sophomore at the UA, I recall hundreds of students converging on the mall after the title game to cheer and whoop it up, only to have the sprinklers come on and turn the celebration into a Lollapalooza 1994 re-enactment — the reaction to losing in the 2001 final was far more ... destructive.

Fourth Avenue was a mass of partiers and people hellbent on destruction, resulting in police breaking out the riot gear and nailing the crowd with rubber bullets to break up the melee. No one wants that, save for the handful of people that believe Keep Tucson Shitty really means Turn Tucson Into Detroit.

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