More than 300 law enforcement officers from 16 agencies across the region will be downtown Monday evening to keep watch over basketball fans hoping to celebrate KU’s first NCAA championship since 2008.
Speaking to media in downtown Lawrence Monday afternoon, Lawrence Police Chief Rich Lockhart said officers will be patrolling on foot, by bicycle and in small utility vehicles until 3 a.m.
“We are very ready for anything,” Lockhart said. “We are ready for the worst, but we are hoping for the best.”
Lockhart said the celebrations downtown following Saturday’s Final Four win went exceptionally smoothly, with officers breaking up one fight prior to the game, and tending only to small medical emergencies for the rest of the night.
He said the department trains yearly for this kind of event and is fortunate to have had experience on which to build. Lockhart said the LPD utilizes the Incident Command System, a standardized approach to emergency response command and coordination, during multi-agency efforts.
“Seeing all those officers together is really neat,” Lockhart said. “We’re all doing the same job. We’ve got everybody ready to have a safe experience tonight.”
Saturday’s win against Villanova saw thousands of fans pouring into Massachusetts Street immediately after the game. Lockhart, who joined the LPD earlier this year, said that was his first experience being in Lawrence for a major basketball win.
Lockhart said he is expecting another KU win Monday night, and hopes fans in the street will continue to celebrate responsibly. The City of Lawrence “strongly discourages” glass bottles or containers on Massachusetts Street, and climbing on city structures is prohibited.
“We want to remind everybody that Jayhawks can’t fly,” Lockhart said. “We are expecting to write zero citations.”
Law enforcement encourages fans to celebrate at home after the game, but Lockhart said police would likely remain downtown into the early morning.
In case you missed it, here’s what you need to know for game day in Lawrence.