- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 24, 2015

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - With the University of Arizona men’s basketball team advancing in the NCAA Tournament, Tucson police plan to take a less confrontational approach on postgame crowd control than last year.

Students who gathered on streets clashed with police in riot gear after the Wildcats were eliminated following a loss to Wisconsin last March.

The idea behind the new approach is to be more visible while allowing lawful celebrating, said Officer Kristopher Goins, a Police Department spokesman, the Arizona Daily Star (https://goo.gl/7jROAa ) in Tucson reported.

Goins said police will have a “highly visible, engaged and inclusive” presence while monitoring downtown Tucson and the university area on game nights.

The Wildcats won their first two games in this year’s tournament and will face Xavier in a Sweet 16 game Thursday evening in Los Angeles.

Fallout from the 2014 clash included an investigation into a police sergeant’s shoving of a then-student over a bench. Video recorded that incident, and the sergeant was later suspended for 80 hours without pay. The then-student filed a lawsuit last month against the sergeant, the city and the police chief.

Deputy Chief Sharon Allen said police officials visited last year’s Final Four cities to learn how police in those cities dealt with crowds.

Based on that, Tucson police will pursue “approachable interaction” with crowds, Allen said last week.

“We hope that the Cats go all the way, and we hope that we have a responsible community and celebrate appropriately,” she said.

Jeremy Christopher, president of a city board that reviews internal investigations and complaints against officers, said the board is “very pleased” with the proposed softer approach.

“The initial response last year was a big concern for the board,” he said.

The board is confident that the approach would also prove to be much more effective than what was seen during last year’s tournament.


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