Cops bittersweet over Flames

BILL KAUFMANN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:20 PM ET

After being hard-pressed and playing defence shorthanded on the raucous Red Mile, city police say the end to the Flames, post-season brings them some relief.

Costly police resources expended in bottling up red-painted revelling rowdies can now be used for more fruitful enforcement efforts, Insp. Peter Davison said yesterday (thurs).

"It's really been quite bittersweet for us -- now we can get to the business of policing the whole city and take the resources from the Red Mile to where they belong," he said.

Police officers, like most Calgarians, bemoan the team's loss on its sporting level, said Davison.

But officers won't miss tangling with drunks using the excuse of hockey celebrations to wreak havoc, he said.

The appearance of some Oilers fans taunting Flames loyalists on the Red Mile following Wednesday night's loss supplied a glimpse of what chaos a Battle of Alberta would have brought, said Davison.

"It's a completely new dynamic...it doesn't become good fun when you multiply what we saw on Wednesday by a thousand," he said.

And the force's budget will also enjoy some respite from the rigours of Flames mania on 17 Ave., said Davison.

The Flames' 2004 run to the Stanley Cup finals rang up a policing bill exceeding $1 million, he said.

"This is not in our annual budget," said Davison, adding the finally tab for policing 11 nights of Red Mile regular season and playoff hoopla this time has yet to be tallied.

"With the overtime, rental and purchase of equipment, it's not insignificant," he said.

An early end to the playoffs hopes, said Davison, allows the city to find a better way to handle Calgary hockey fervor.

"We,ll seek some long-term solutions in a manner that won't affect the community so much," he said.

But finding a different venue for the revellry might not appeal to the spontaneous partiers, he conceded.


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