- The Washington Times - Monday, April 1, 2002

Police from four jurisdictions are bracing for riots tonight, whether the University of Maryland Terrapins win or lose the national college basketball championship.
"I hope they win the game and this passes like a ship in the dark. We're waiting for the dawn," said College Park City Manager Richard N. Conti.
Police said two Prince George's County police cruisers were damaged early yesterday morning in the celebrations that ensued in College Park after the Terrapins beat the Kansas Jayhawks and won the right to play for the national championship tonight.
A window was broken at a sandwich shop, some street signs were removed and paraded by revelers, debris including bottles was strewn about, and one person was arrested for a break-in at the Maryland Book Exchange, said police spokesman Cpl. Robert Clark.
"It doesn't make any sense," said a Prince George's County police officer, referring both to the $500,000 in damages from student riots after the Terrapins' loss in the Final Four tournament a year ago, and to the relatively minor damage yesterday.
The Maryland-Kansas game had ended about 90 minutes before the rioting began. Some students said police used pepper spray and fired pellets from laser-scope guns whenever a bottle was thrown from a crowd. The pellets reportedly contained a white powder that produced a burning sensation in the throat when inhaled.
Mr. Conti is meeting with other officials this morning to finalize plans for the coordination of police from Prince George's County, University of Maryland Department of Public Safety, Maryland State Police and Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning.
"There will be a general public alert," Mr. Conti said. Officials have made tentative plans to close U.S. 1 through College Park "to get traffic out of the downtown areas."
"There will be little tolerance," Mr. Conti said, explaining that fans, both students as well as outsiders, may be arrested swiftly for riotous, damaging behaviors, whether Maryland wins or loses the national championship to the Indiana Hoosiers.
"It will be a different game plan Monday night from what it was last night," Mr. Conti said. "We have newer concerns based upon what happened last night."
A major reason for the change in strategies is that most of the university's 33,000 students will have returned from spring break. Only about an eighth of the student body was on campus Saturday night when the Terrapins beat Kansas, 97-88.
University police, on duty at about thrice the normal strength, apparently deterred any disruptions on campus, especially around Cole Field House where about 400 students, staff and faculty watched the game on a giant screen.
Tonight's championship game between Maryland and Indiana also will be televised at Cole tonight. Only students, staff and faculty will gain entry to the 14,500-seat arena on campus.
When disturbances erupted after midnight Saturday on U.S. Route 1 east of the main campus, university police responded to a call for assistance from Prince George's County police, said Maj. Cathy Atwell, of the university's Department of Public Safety.
All university police will be on duty tonight, Maj. Atwell said, "to make certain that the championship is safe and that the campus is safe."
"We're not playing around. We're going to be ready," she said.
Yesterday, Prince George's County police Chief Gerald Wilson, who spent much of the previous night at the scene of the rioting, directed officers gathering evidence and assessing damages. He plans to report the results of the investigation today.
"There appeared to be some non-students," said Mr. Conti, estimating the crowd that confronted police to be about 1,000 people.
"Last night, it was helpful to have the horses from Park and Planning," said Mr. Conti, referring to mounted police brought in after midnight to help disperse the crowd.
Heavy rain shortly after 1 a.m. seemed to break up most of the revelers, but police remained on the scene.
Shortly after dawn, cleanup crews arrived; by 10 a.m., the scene was clean, Mr. Conti said.


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