Stadium security to stay the same Saturday

Published: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 1:30 p.m.

Even with the world's eyes fixated on the potential actions of members at a little church in Gainesville, the University of Florida Police Department doesn't expect to take any extra precaution inside or near Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday.

Safety concerns have arisen around town with the scheduled burning of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, by Pastor Terry Jones and the members of the Dove World Outreach Center, an evangelical Christian church on the northwest part of town.

UFPD Capt. Jeff Holcomb said Thursday morning there will be routine security measures taken for Saturday's UF-South Florida game that kicks off at 12:21 p.m.

"At this time, the university and the police department have received no direct threats to the university itself or the game," Holcomb told The Sun.

"It'll be game day as usual for us."

Holcomb said the standard 200-plus officers made up of the UFPD, the Gainesville Police Department and the Florida Highway Patrol will be on duty for Saturday's game. Officers will be on "high alert" and will do their routine contraband searches inside the stadium.

In the last month, Holcomb said the UFPD has "constantly" met with other local and state agencies to find any new information to see if security measures needed to be increased on campus Saturday, but has no reason to heighten operations.

Wednesday, there was a crowd of police cars settled in front of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, but Holcomb said that was nothing more than a normal, game-day training opportunity involving finding certain strategic points inside the stadium.

Thursday night's usual stadium lock-down will continue as planned with officers and bomb-sniffing dogs sweeping the area. Holcomb said an addition dog could be used this week to speed up the process. Officers will also be on the scene until the stadium opens to the general public Saturday. Gates will open to fans at 10:45.

"Fans are encouraged to arrive at the gates early and pay particular attention to the prohibited items list, which will be strictly enforced," anUAA statement said.

Holcomb said representatives from the football team have not expressed any safety concerns for Saturday.

With an afternoon kickoff and the church's activities scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., Holcomb said he doesn't anticipate any incidents at the game and encourages fans to take a vigilante approach and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.

"Hopefully, if someone were to see something and gives us a call its one of those things where we can intervene before the situation gets worse," Holcomb said.

There also hasn't been any change in the fly-over procedures that allows flyovers of 3,000 feet above the stadium and limits unauthorized aircraft from flying within three miles of the stadium.

Holcomb said UFPD will monitor the situation through the weekend, but stresses that the church's activities are a Gainesville matter and not related toUF.

"Hopefully we can keep that event out in the city and we'll handle our football game here," he said.

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