The nation’s largest police union is again taking aim at the National Football League and its policy of banning guns at games.
In the wake of the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris, the Fraternal Order of Police has expressed its opposition to the 2013 policy that prohibits anyone, including off-duty and retired police officers, from carrying a firearm into NFL stadiums or other league facilities.
In a Nov. 20 letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, FOP president Chuck Canterbury urged Goodell to “rescind this policy which weakens the safety and security of NFL players, personnel and fans.”
Canterbury wrote that terrorists are targeting venues based on amount of injury and death they can inflict.
“Well-attended venues and areas are being deliberately targeted by these radical killers who do not intend or expect to survive the assault,” he said.
The Paris attacks included shootings at cafes, suicide bombings near France’s national stadium and a mass shooting inside a concert hall. The attacks left 129 people dead and more than 350 injured.
“Law enforcement officers, which you regularly employ to protect teams and stadiums in which they play, do not suddenly become a security risk if they attend an NFL game on their day off or after they retire,” Canterbury said.
In a Sept. 25, 2013, letter to the NFL opposing the then-recently announced policy, Canterbury said the FOP members were angry at the directive because they don’t view themselves as posing a security risk.
In his recent letter, Canterbury pointed to the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 as one reason retired and off-duty police officers should be exempt from the policy. The law exempts qualified current and former law enforcement officers from state laws that prohibit carrying concealed handguns.
In an Oct. 22, 2013, letter to the FOP, the NFL said the law didn’t apply to private organizations or property controlled by those organizations.
In the same letter, the NFL said more than 500 civilian security personnel and 150 on-duty uniformed police officers were assigned to every NFL stadium at every game in 2012.
“(They) know one another, work together on a regular basis, and have specific game day assignments, responsibilities and duties,” the NFL said.
“Off-duty police officers attend games as spectators,” it said. “They are unknown to working law enforcement officers. They may not have the same training and do not participate in the weekly preparation meetings.”
The league also expressed concerns over off-duty police officers’ potential use of alcohol during a game.
The NFL’s firearm ban doesn’t affect police officers in Texas, where state law supersedes league policy. Officers checking in at a specific gate to inform stadium security where they’ll be sitting can enter with their weapons, according to dfw.cbslocal.com.
“Our officers are 24/7, on or off duty, and if they run into a critical incident, they are required to take action," Dallas Police Association president Ron Pinkston told the news outlet in 2013. “Our officers will be allowed to carry their weapon into AT&T Stadium and other football stadiums in the state of Texas due to Texas law.”
Two Minnesota law enforcement groups sued the NFL in 2014 over the league’s gun policy. The state’s Court of Appeals ruled in the NFL’s favor in August, according to the Star Tribune.
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