Prior to the San Francisco 49ers' preseason finale last month, a North Bay drunk allegedly saw fit to vent his spleen upon a group wandering through the parking lot in the opposing team's jerseys. His insult of choice: "San Diego bums!"
Yet these were not San Diego bums, but San Francisco cops — and when the heckler purportedly turned violent, he was arrested.
Cops disguised in team uniforms, it turns out, have been ubiquitous at Candlestick Park since a football game broke out last year during a violent brawl and gunfight between 49ers and Raiders fans.
Cops roaming the football stadium receive their "uniforms" from the same entity outfitting the players. "We provide not only 49ers apparel, but other teams we would be playing," says Bob Lange, the Niners' public relations director.
In this way, the team spares the SFPD — a department with a budget in the vicinity of half a billion dollars — the cost of providing officers with Chargers, Bears, Dolphins, or Lions jerseys. This also prevents a strategic faux pas such as outfitting every cop in matching Matt Leinart Cardinals jerseys that were available en masse and for a massive discount.
Meanwhile, over at AT&T Park, police in Los Angeles gear skulked around in a recent Dodgers-Giants series. Contrary to the deluxe appointments of the football cops, however, police patrolling the baseball games are forced to wear their own Dodgers uniforms, or hand-me-downs from their colleagues.
The department's more ragtag approach to Dodgers-Giants games is largely a matter of demographics. As you'd expect, more local cops grew up cheering for the Dodgers than, say, the Buffalo Bills.
"It is not mandatory that you have to be a Giants fan if you join the San Francisco Police Department," says police spokesman Officer Carlos Manfredi. Some of San Francisco's boys in blue are also closet fans of the boys in blue — a team that really did once go by the nickname "bums."
One of the shooting victims at last year's Raiders-49ers contest made the intriguing sartorial choice to wear a shirt reading "Fuck the 49ers" into Candlestick Park. That's not an item you'd likely find in the 49ers team shop — but Manfredi notes that undercover football cops who wish to wear their own sporting gear to the stadium are free to do so.
Meditate on that, aspiring hooligans.