Updated: 02/18/2014 7:08 PM
Created: 02/18/2014 11:59 AM KSTP.com
By: Todd Wilson
On the last home game for the Minnesota Vikings this season a Minneapolis officer showed up at the gate with a ticket for the event. It was the last game played at the Metrodome and the Vikings won vs. the Lions.
The officer was carrying a gun. "He was denied entrance to the facility and he was forced to go out and lock his loaded firearm in a vehicle," Executive Director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association Dennis Flaherty said.
Flaherty's group and the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis are suing the NFL over a policy that prohibits off-duty officers from bringing their weapons into an NFL stadium.
The NFL’s Firearms and Weapons Policy was enacted in September 2013 and says that firearms are strictly prohibited within NFL facilities. The only exception is for officers operating within their jurisdiction and specifically assigned to work an NFL event.
Attorneys for the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association and the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis filed the lawsuit, claiming the new policy violates the Minnesota Citizens Personal Protection Act of 2003.
Attorneys argue that many off-duty officers keep their concealed weapons with them so they can respond to an incident or intervene during crimes if they come up, meaning they can “protect the public at a moment’s notice.”
The attorneys also argue that officers often have personal threats against them and their families because of their role in prosecuting criminals and that having a concealed weapon gives them a certain level of security.
KSTP made six calls to the NFL for a statement. So far the NFL has not responded. However, the Vikings did send an email, saying for now the team will defer to the NFL.
Flaherty says, this suit is all about public safety as well as the officers' personal safety. "There are a number of crimes that do take place at a sporting event and the NFL is no exception to that," he said.
According to Flaherty, TCF Bank Stadium also bans all people including off-duty police from carrying weapons.