LPS beefs up security for HS rivals opening game

Southwestern Oklahoma's biggest athletic event of the year has arrived.  The Lawton High School and Eisenhower High School football teams are set to kick off their seasons Friday night in the first of three inter-city rivalry games at Cameron Stadium.  School officials are expecting a capacity crowd of around 12,000 people to show; that's students, alumni and football fans of all ages.  But, when you get too many excited spectators together, sometimes things go sour and trouble erupts.  School administrators want these events to be about the game, the athletes and school spirit and they say trouble will simply not be tolerated.

Every year security measures are put in place to keep everyone safe and 7News talked with John Whittington, LPS Police Director to learn what safety measures are being taken.  "It's a social event as much as an athletic event," he said, and that's where problems generally start.  So, the first order of business for game security starts at the ticket gate.  Administrators will make sure every LPS student is obeying the schools' dress code, although adults will be exempt from this rule.  Be warned, if you wear gang colors or clothing, you will be sent home.  "We're not going to tolerate any gang activity," said Whittington.  "This is for the kids this is their night it's the school they're here to support and their team."

Inside the stadium, safety focus turns to crowd control; for example, keeping Ike and Lawton High fans on the correct side of the stadium.  This is partially the usher's job, but, "we'll have police officers all over the place. some will be on patrol, some will be stationary, we should have close to 40 officers out here and Cameron is on duty," he said.  Police are only the beginning of the LPS security arsenal.    "We've got lights in the parking lot to make sure it's lit up.  We've got 35 security camera spread around the place.  Administrators from every secondary school will be here. They're required to be here," Whittington said.

Some students think the dress code has gone a little too far, especially on game night.  One student said he wasn't allowed to paint his face or bring in any type of noise maker to help cheer his team on.  But, Whittington says, "We're here to make sure everyone stays safe and goes home with good memories."  Hopefully a lot of good memories and there will surely be enough noise from fans tonight - no noisemakers necessary.