The National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell asking that the league lift its ban on armed off-duty officers in light of the threat of terror attacks against crowded venues, a threat actualized most recently in Paris.
FOP president Chuck Canterbury wrote the November 20 letter. Buckeye Firearms Association published the following excerpt from Canterbury’s letter:
Today, I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to urge you to rescind this policy which weakens the safety and security of NFL players, personnel and fans. The terrorist attacks and threats of attacks from organizations like the Islamic State…are selecting targets based on the amount of death and injury they can inflict – mass murder and casualty events. Well-attended venues and areas are being deliberately targeted by the radical killers who do not intend or expect to survive the assault. Law enforcement, even when working actively with highly trained and skilled security professionals, cannot be certain that all threats will be detected and neutralized.
On October 7, 2013, Breitbart News reported the shift in NFL policy to bar off-duty officers from carrying concealed firearms into football stadiums. Cleveland 19 Action News discovered this “new NFL security policy,” which police unions objected to as rendering them defenseless.
Moreover, Minneapolis Police Federation (MPF) President John Delmonico expressed his belief that the rule barring off-duty cops from carrying their firearms into games was “a violation of [those officers’] rights.” And the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association (MPPOA) sued the NFL, claiming the security policy “violates state law, and could put the public and officers in danger.”
On October 29, 2013, the NFL sent a letter to MPPOA executive director Dennis J. Flaherty, defending the decision to disarm off-duty police officers. Part of the letter, shared with Breitbart Sports by the league, said:
Off-duty peace officers attend games as spectators. They are unknown to working law enforcement officers. They may not have the same training and do not participate in the weekly preparation meetings. If permitted to carry concealed weapons, they create deconfliction issues for working law enforcement officers and increase the potential for “blue-on-blue” response confrontations. They also impact security screening personnel that are required to accurately identify, verify, and authenticate multiple federal, state, and local law enforcement agency badges and credentials. Moreover, off-duty peace officers are not included in the on-site law enforcement chain of command or bound by department or agency on-duty policies that restrict their use of alcohol or subject them to other on-duty behavior standards.
The FOP asks Goodell to change this policy in light of the fact that the Islamic State seeks out venues where unarmed—therefore, defenseless—people congregate in large numbers. The FOP contends that the NFL ought to exclude police from those disarmed in its stadiums in the midst of such terror attacks.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.