Following a handful of incidents at E.C. Glass High School in mid-October that resulted in responses from law enforcement, the Lynchburg Police Department has made plans to increase security measures at this week’s highly anticipated football matchup between the midtown school and city rival Heritage High School.
According to LPD spokesperson Carrie Dungan, LPD increases security for the rivalry game every year, but the department plans to implement “additional measures this year due to recent incidents at E.C. Glass.” This year’s contest is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Lynchburg City Stadium and pits one-loss Heritage against undefeated E.C. Glass in a battle for Seminole District supremacy.
Among the additional measures are a “significant” increase in the number of officers, who will patrol both the parking lots and the stadium, at the game; restrictions on movement during the contest; additional lighting; and restrictions on items that can be taken through entrances.
No backpacks will be allowed in the stadium, and LPD is bringing in additional lighting so that “the whole parking lot will be lit up,” Dungan said. Additionally, once the game begins, LPD will set up barriers between the two sides of the stadium to keep fans on their designated sides of the stands.
City Stadium is not equipped with metal detectors and LPD does not plan to do any additional searches Friday. Unlike Liberty University’s Williams Stadium, City Stadium does not have a clear bag policy and is not limiting other items Friday.
“It’s definitely something we’re taking very seriously,” Dungan said. “We’re dedicated to helping everybody have a safe environment while they’re enjoying this storied rivalry. We know that it’s going to be a great game on Friday, and we want to make sure everybody is safe during the game as well as before and after the game.”
Dungan said LPD is working with Lynchburg City Schools to inform students at Glass and Heritage of the changes for the contest to ensure fans are informed ahead of the game.
The additional plans came into play after LPD responded to a handful of security incidents at E.C. Glass in mid-October.
On Friday, Oct. 25, two verbal fights broke out at Glass, as well as a physical altercation, which prompted responses from LPD and arrests. Two 16-year-old boys and a 17-year-old boy were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct in the course of events at Glass, according to LPD Chief Ryan Zuidema. The department later investigated a threat of a potential shooting at Glass — which LPD ultimately said was unfounded — that circulated on social media the following Monday night.
The threat led to an increased police presence at both Glass and Heritage the following day, when about 60% of students at Glass were absent.
Lynchburg City Schools, in conjunction with LPD, hosted a forum about the incidents that evening, which drew more than 200 people and included a contentious question-and-answer session about safety concerns from students, parents and community members.
According to Dungan, there was an increased police presence in both city schools last week as a precautionary measure “just to make sure students, staff and faculty felt safe.”
Dungan added LPD is “still investigating” all the incidents at Glass, including the fights and the unfounded threat “to make sure we are doing our due diligence and looking at every angle we can, and making sure any charges that should be brought are being brought.”
Emily Brown covers the Hillcats, ODAC and high school sports for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5529.