Gators don't growl at security

Published: Friday, September 1, 2006 at 9:19 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 1, 2006 at 9:19 a.m.

Football fans shouldn't fret, University Police won't be confiscating their sunscreen on game day.

Security measures at sporting venues at the University of Florida will remain the same despite increased security at airports following the London terror scare from two weeks ago.

While passengers at the nation's airports are not allowed to carry liquids and gels, Chip Howard, operations manager at the University Athletic Association, said such measures are not be necessary here.

“We're as prepared as we've ever been this season,” he said.

The security plan for sporting venues bans food and drinks, bottles, ice bags and ice chests. It also prohibits any items deemed hazardous by game management personnel.

Howard said the plan has been in place since 1996, but received a major overhaul after 9/11 that included a ban on large carry-on bags, backpacks and cameras.

Following 9/11, 50 more police officers were added to patrol the games, and local law enforcement began doing security drills on a regular basis.

This year they've conducted drills at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and at the Gainesville Regional Airport, Howard said.

The security plan encompasses all law enforcement on site, including city and county law enforcement and fire departments, the Florida Highway Patrol, the University Police Department and the local FBI office.

When all law enforcement involved with the security plan met last week, they decided it was not necessary to enhance the plan following the London terror scare of two weeks ago.

“I don't know what else we could do that we haven't already done,” Howard said.

Capt. Earl Crews, head of special divisions at University Police, said that they're constantly alerting fans about what they can and can't bring to games through televised public service announcements and newspaper and other advertisements.

So far it hasn't been an issue, he said.

“Since 2001, fans are willing to go along with security policies, he said. “Our role is to secure the safety of all students and visitors. It's very consistent with what all large venues do.”

Students picking up season tickets Wednesday afternoon generally agreed.

Jessica Metzger, 19, said there's “a fair amount of security,” and the only suspicious things she's seen are rowdy fans, but “that's just game spirit.”

Nicole Faig, a sophomore studying neuroscience said she's also felt safe during the games, and that there is no need to ban gels like airports do.

“I'd be appalled if they took away my moisturizers and cosmetics because those are things I paid for,” she said. “It'd be too extreme in Gainesville.”

Faig said that just being surrounded by so many fans made her feel safe.

“If there's something suspicious happening, someone will say something,” she said.

Carl Nyberg, a microbiology junior who was picking up his tickets with her, chimed in: “We're all Gators. We look out for each other."

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