The NFL is instituting a new policy for all its clubs. Off-duty police officers will not be able to carry their weapons into stadiums. That decision is not sitting well with the head of the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police.
An NFL statement to WBAL Radio says off-duty law enforcement officers attending games do so as ticketed spectators. They are unknown to the working law enforcement officers and have not been briefed or participated in pregame day or gameday law enforcement planning, strategy, and emergency response procedures and protocols. They are not bound by “on-duty” department or agency policies that that restrict their use of alcohol or subject them to other behavior standards and are not within the present law enforcement chain of command.
Bob Cherry, President of the Baltimore City FOP says it is a mistake to disarm off-duty officers. “Many police officers across the country who don’t drink at these games and are suitably armed and actually need to be armed,” Cherry says. He says off-duty Baltimore City Police officers are required to carry their weapon with them at all times.
Cherry says we continue to see time and time again across the country both before and after September 11th, where law enforcement needs to be armed even when off-duty to protect citizens.
He says the Ravens have been great about this issue but now the team is being forced to follow what the NFL has put in place. Cherry says as of a month ago the Ravens allowed off-duty active police with guns into the stadium but would not allow retired cops with guns into the stadium. He is hopeful the team will continue to try and work with them on the issue. Cherry wants to see gun lockers installed at the stadium for off-duty officers so as they come to the gate they can disarm, put their weapon in a secure location and get the weapon when they leave the game.
Cherry says the problem with the NFL policy is that it is a blanket policy. “You have many officers who do have season tickets, will show up at a Ravens game because they are in the city and they work for Baltimore City Police they are required to be suitably armed. Now the NFL says well you can’t bring your weapon into our stadium,” Cherry says.
The NFL says while they appreciate all law enforcement officers and have full confidence in their ability to enforce the law and protect public safety they believe that the interest of public safety is best served by limiting the number of weapons inside stadiums to those required by officers that perform specifically assigned law enforcement working functions and gameday duties.
A Ravens spokesman declined to talk about any security matter at the stadium.
Cherry is asking that citizens and fellow officers contact NFL Commisisoner Roger Goodell and let him know they do not support the policy.