(CBS) – A new NFL policy bans off-duty law enforcement officers from taking their guns into stadiums.
As CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports, many officers are calling foul, and fan support for the policy is mixed.
First it was the NFL’s new bag policy not scoring any points with fans this season. Now, the league’s ban on off-duty officers carrying weapons into stadiums is coming under fire.
“It’s a terrible idea because you have so many people who coming to a stadium that if an incident happens, how are the police supposed to protect and serve?” Bears fan Jeff Atkinson says.
In a statement, an NFL spokesperson says: “We 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 game-day duties.”
Some fans welcome the new policy.
“If they don’t have their guns and no one else their gun, it would be a little safer,” fan Ronald Hansbrough says.
But two veteran Chicago police officers disagree.
“If you don’t have someone that could respond to a deadly-force incident that could cause more lives to be in jeopardy,” one officer says.
“You’re never just a spectator,” the other says. “Even when I’m off-duty, I’m supposed to get involved.”
He says he is less inclined to attend a Bears game.
As for the Chicago Bears, a spokesperson issued a statement which says, in part: “We will continue to follow all NFL policies and look for additional ways to make Bears games safe and fan friendly for all who attend.”
On Monday, the president of the Fraternal Order of police called the new policy a quote “insult.”
“Chicago police officers are trained to use firearms to save lives and defend law-abiding citizens,” Mike Shield says. “It is an insult that a state certified law-enforcement officer cannot carry his duty weapon at an NFL event.”
The NFL policy is league-wide. Only stadiums subject to state or local laws that prohibit such a ban are exempt from the policy.