Four men were arrested Wednesday evening during the LA King's game at the Staples Center, but LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon is taking the number in stride.
"When you consider they really had nothing to do with the crowd inside the venue at all, that these were arrests made in surrounding restaurants -- that's pretty good," said Lt. Vernon to The Huffington Post.
LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith echoed this sentiment in an earlier interview with NBC 4, calling the small number of arrests "terrific" considering that tens of thousands of people were in downtown LA that night.
Indeed, at around 7 p.m. Wednesday, the LAPD sent out an alert that the Staples Center, the LA Live restaurants and surrounding venues were all at capacity. "Please avoid the area. Enjoy the game at home," said the warning.
Still, despite LA Kings fans' good behavior after a disappointing loss, Lt. Vernon pointed out to HuffPost that there were still important lessons that Staples Center and the surrounding venues could learn from last night's arrests.
For Lt. Vernon, the most important thing to keep in mind about the arrests is that all four men were under the influence of alcohol when they were taken in -- a sobering reminder to downtown LA restaurants and bars that attract crowds for big sports events.
"The venues who serve these folks should really monitor their customers' level of alcohol and stop serving them when they are impaired," said Lt. Vernon.
Another tip from the LAPD: Scan customers' identification cards or driver's licenses when they walk in the door during high-profile events like the Kings or Lakers championship games. Combined with footage from the venue's security cameras, the tool could be a powerful reminder to customers that they are not anonymous, and that they will be held accountable.
Details on the four men who were arrested near the Staples Center:
- Kevin Alterau, 26, of Irvine, Calif., was arrested for public drunkenness. Police placed him in a holding cell until he sobered up, and then released him.
- Eric Valdivia, 31, of Lincoln Heights, Calif., was arrested for shoplifting two hats from the ESPN store. He committed the crime in front of some LAPD vice officers.
- Daniel Rodriguez, 38, of Covina, Calif. was arrested for battery at the ESPN Zone. Rodriguez was walking from table to table at the restaurant, taking food from other people's plates, when he was asked to leave. He then hit a security guard.
- Ronald Josett, 34, of Santa Clarita, Calif. was arrested for battery on a security guard at the Yard House restaurant.
The relatively small number of arrests around the Staples Center was overshadowed by a larger problem at the game, notes NBC 4. Throughout the game, disappointed fans kept approaching Cmdr. Smith with fake scalped LA Kings tickets for which they had paid hundreds of dollars.
"It's just buyer beware out there," Cmdr. Smith told the Los Angeles Times in regards to scalped tickets. "You're crazy if you buy a ticket from someone you don't know."
The LAPD has made "celebrating responsibly" a major priority in the wake of the arson and fan violence following the LA Lakers' 2010 championship win at home. Police are continuing to investigate the crimes committed outside the Staples Center that year. Just last month, police arrested 22-year-old Darren Cooper of San Bernadino, Calif. for his role in destroying a taxi near the arena in 2010.
Watch the NBC 4 video below for more on LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith's take on Wednesday night's security successes and problems:
View more videos at: http://nbclosangeles.com.