Police keeping the peace at today's University of Utah football game have something they didn't have a week ago - one game under their belt.
Last week's first home game of the season marked the debut of the new Rice-Eccles Stadium and 13,000 more fans than police were used to.There were 90 people assigned to work security and traffic control at the home opener. Mostly, it went off without a hitch.
Oh, there was the group of shirtless men who who ran out on the football field, but that was minor stuff.
University of Utah Police Chief Bob Wilson said the nearly 46,000 fans mostly behaved themselves.
"We had the normal number of drunks, some disorderly conducts. For the first game in the new stadium, dealing with a crowd a third bigger than we are used to, it went pretty well," Wilson said.
The new Rice-Eccles Stadium makes working security much easier. From his vantage point six floors up in security headquarters, Wilson could see every major thoroughfare leading to the university.
"You can see Fourth, Fifth and Sixth South. You can even see Interstate 15, if they ever get it done."
The enhanced view means Wilson and his officers can more easily spot places where traffic is jammed and adjust accordingly. They can also more readily see trouble if it breaks out in the crowd of spectators.
"It's a godsend for us in terms of more easily avoiding traffic gridlock. It's a huge help to us in knowing where to send officers if there is a disagreement. Is it just a scuffle between two people or a full-blown fight where we need a lot of officers? We can tell that from up here," Wilson said.
The new stadium also features two holding cells.
"The back seat of a patrol car was our holding cell before," the chief said. The stadium also has an infirmary to treat people with medical problems, which Wilson says is typically what keeps most security officers busy during the game.
At the home opener, Sgt. Earl McKee was directing the efforts of six teams made up of from four to eight police officers.
The officers, many who work the stadium as a part-time job, represent a variety of jurisdictions, including the Utah Highway Patrol, Salt Lake Police Department and the multi-agency Metro Gang Task Force.
At least two of those officers milled through the crowd, their presence signaling a deterrence to any gang activity.
McKee said football games tend to generate an overexcitement among fans that can easily lead to trouble.
"We like to plan so we can avoid problems vs. just reacting."