December 04, 2015
The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police has joined its national leaders in urging the NFL to rescind its policy prohibiting off-duty and retired law enforcement officers from carrying firearms into stadiums.
Philadelphia FOP President John McNesby told Phillymag.com that his union supports the National FOP's stance.
National FOP President Chuck Canterbury sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last month saying the policy — enacted before the 2013 season — "weakens the safety and security of NFL players, personnel and fans." He said ISIS and other extremists are targeting well-attended venues to inflict mass casualties.
"Law enforcement, even when working actively with highly skilled and trained security professionals, cannot be certain that all threats will be detected and neutralized," Canterbury wrote in the letter, dated Nov. 20.
The FOP is targeting the NFL for its league-wide ban, which includes the Philadelphia Eagles and Lincoln Financial Field. But other sporting venues also prevent off-duty officers from carrying firearms.
In Philadelphia, the Phillies require off-duty officers to check any weapons — firearms, knives and stun guns — at a police room before entering Citizens Bank Park.
The Wells Fargo Center, home of the Flyers and 76ers, includes a weapons ban, but its building policy does not list any specific instructions or exemptions for off-duty officers. Spokesman Ike Richman did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.
McNesby did not immediately return a message from PhillyVoice regarding the Philadelphia FOP's stance on the policies at Citizens Bank Park and the Wells Fargo Center.
The National FOP raised the issue after terroristic attacks in Paris killed 130 people in November. The terrorists targeted a concert venue, soccer stadium and restaurants.
The Ohio FOP was among the first branches to follow the National FOP's lead, calling on the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns to reject the NFL's policy. Detroit police unions followed suit after two animal rights protestors ran onto Ford Field after the Lions Thanksgiving victory over the Eagles.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Fox News that the NFL determined public safety is best served by armed, on-duty officers assigned to work the game as part of a comprehensive security plan that also includes unarmed civilian security personnel.
“Off-duty officers attend games as spectators and are unknown to working law enforcement officers and security personnel,” McCarthy told Fox News. “They may not have the same training and do not participate in the weekly preparation meetings. They are not included in the on-site chain of command. The well-intentioned display or use of gun could have serious unintended and potentially tragic consequences.”