Tucson police training to handle March Madness crowds

Tucson police training to handle March Madness crowds

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - With the March Madness excitement building up and the Wildcats on a hot streak, Tucson police are preparing for some excited fans this year.

Officers are now training to handle and manage crowds and prevent things from getting out of control.

Police say you can expect to see a very different strategy this year.

Deputy chief Sharon Allen spoke to members of the Citizen Police Advisory Review Board at their monthly meeting on Tuesday night.

This is a group of citizens elected by council members to monitor and question police activities.

Allen said police have been preparing for this big event for the last year.

Things got out of control on Main Gate Square last year, when police in full riot gear faced off with a very rowdy crowd of citizens and University of Arizona students.

Critics of police procedure say seeing police in riot gear May have led to inciting the event.

Several students were arrested and police officers hurt, after people started throwing bottles and cans at them during this riot.

This year police say they are practicing a completely different approach.

Tucson police will be partnering up with the Department of Public safety and Pima County and focusing on special zones, which include the downtown division, Fourth Avenue and Main Gate Square.

What you can expect not to see this year is police in full riot gear out on these streets.

You will still see a strong police presence, but police say they have learned lessons from last year. What you can expect to see this year is officers being more approachable, and interacting with the crowds.

You can expect to see officers out for every game the wildcats play, with a full response at the sweet sixteen, the elite eight, final four and final championship, if we make it that far.

Deputy Chief Sharon Allen said the strategy they plan to use this year has been well thought out and much discussed for months.

"These came based on our trips to other cities in the country that are familiar with sports celebration events, we're incorporating some of those ideas," said Allen.

"We hope the Cats go all they way, We hope we have a responsible community to celebrate appropriately," added Allen.

Police are planning to hold a press conference next week to announce more about their plan.

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