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Saturday, June 15, 2024

GPD makes safety plans for post–game parties

After the BCS named the Gators SEC champs, the Gainesville Police Department began preparations to keep people safe for the post-game parties.

"We will be working with almost every agency that you can think of in this city," GPD spokeswoman Summer Hallett said.

The GPD is coordinating with the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, the University Police Department and the Florida Department of Transportation.

This will be the second national football championship game for UF in three years.

"It's not the first time, so it's not like we don't know what to expect," she said. "But we're not sitting back on our laurels. We're planning like it's the very first national championship the city has ever seen."

The GPD will determine the night's plan based on the outcome of the game. She said fans could still get in trouble if the Gators lose.

"People don't realize what we have to go through to make sure everything is looked at and prepared to make the city safe for everyone," she said.

The GPD learned from former championships, said GPD spokesman Keith Kameg.

"The biggest problem we had last time was with cars that were parked in lots on University Avenue," said Kameg.

After the national basketball championship in 2007, people climbed on car rooftops to get a bird's-eye view of the chaos.

Hallett said that GPD is also greasing the light poles on University Avenue.

"No one looks at the guy on the greased pole as the cool guy, and no one thinks it's funny when they are gross when they get down," Hallett said.

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For the Gainesville Police Department, the game is a reminder of Lt. Corey Dahlem, who was killed by a drunken driver after the Gators basketball national championship in April 2007.

"Our main goal is that people have fun. But fun is only fun when it's safe," Hallett said. "We don't want that to happen again to anyone. It mars the event itself."

The Miami-Dade Police Department is also preparing for the game at Dolphin Stadium in Miami.

"We are hoping for a very peaceful event," said police Detective Juan Villalba, "but we have contingencies in place if crimes do happen."

Traffic is the main concern, he said. Because rush-hour traffic can be bad in Miami, fans are encouraged to arrive early.

Uniformed and undercover officers will be at the stadium.

"This game is something that we prepare and train for to try and make it the most enjoyable that we can," Villalba said.

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