Security To Increase At All Tulsa High School Sporting Events

Monday, September 14th 2009, 1:56 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashil Sims and Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard said the school district will absolutely heighten security at all athletic events.

The new safety procedures follow a riot at a high school football game. The changes will start immediately.

Friday night, six fights broke out at the Booker T. and East Central football game. It took 12 school security officers and 30 Tulsa officers to get the crowd under control.

9/12/2009 Related story: Tulsa Parents, Police React To Booker T. Washington Violence Control

On Monday afternoon, Superintendent Ballard said changes have been made to keep students safe.

"We have an absolute responsibility to provide a safe environment. That was not a safe environment," said TPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard.

"You come out with your family. You want to enjoy a football game. And this is exactly what you don't want to see," said Emanuel Collier, a parent.

Security officers say the fights at the Booker T. and East Central game involved dozens of people. Officers used pepper spray to break the crowds up.

"We had to use, what we had to use, in order to get the fights stopped," said Dwight Jackson, TPS Security Officer.

Three people were arrested. One was a 17-year-old student, but not from either of the two competing schools. Two were adults - Jacory McCray and Steven Adams.

"Responsibilities for this event rests with adults. 18,19, 20-year-old men who come to an athletic event, for kids, with the sole intent of causing conflict," said TPS Police Chief Gary Ruddick.

But, it's kids and fans who will have to deal with the consequences.

"I wish we had probably screened a little harder to keep some people out. and that's something we're going to try to do," said TPS Police Chief Gary Ruddick.

The TPS Police Chief admits it could be a delicate and difficult duty.

"We're going to make some mistakes, I'm not gonna lie to you. Because when you start to try to judge people's intentions.  But, what we're going to try to tell people is your behavior dictates our actions," said TPS Police Chief Gary Ruddick.

Ballard says there will be more security officers at all games from now on. Right now, the minimum number is six officers.

"I would hate to have been that lone female security officer, who singlehandedly had to turn back 40 people who tried to get back into the game that evening," said Superintendent Keith Ballard.

Ticket prices for all high school football and basketball games will increase, from $5 to $6, to pay for more security and off-duty officers.

Every spectator will need to show a valid ID at the gate and students must show their school issued IDs.

"People will be turned away at the gate if they don't have the identification," said Superintendent Keith Ballard.

Ballard says he has approved two more security options that schools can use at their discretion. Schools now have the option to pre-sell student tickets to block gate purchases. The other option on the table, moving select, high profile rivalry games to Saturday afternoons.

Ballard says he has discussed the possibility with coaches and principals to move some Friday night games to neutral sites. He says the option of playing games, with no fans in the stands, has not been discussed.