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Before the NFL policy took effect, the Vikings had never reported an incident or concern about off-duty officers having concealed weapons in the stadium, according to the suit.
“Whether the NFL has the authority to ban handguns is the crux of the suit,” Delmonico said. “If it’s the NFL today, who will be next? We need to stand up for our rights now.”
Stanek agrees. “NFL facilities will not be safer by removing the capability of sworn, certified and trained off-duty officers to react to any and all situations,” he said. “Instead, it diminishes the safety of the venue and the fans, which is why I am fully supportive of my colleagues and this lawsuit.”
Flaherty said it’s up to an individual officer to decide whether to carry a weapon while off duty, but many do so because they want to be able to respond to any police matter that might arise. Self-protection is another reason.
“Citizens could care less if the officer is on or off duty when a response is needed,” he said. “I’m confident [that] when a judge looks at the law closely and the intent the Legislature had in mind, he or she will rule on our behalf.”
Similar issues have been debated by law enforcement in Cleveland and Baltimore, and it has been a topic in trade publications, Flaherty said.
“This has nothing to do with arming citizens,” he said. “It’s only about disarming police officers.”
David Chanen • 612-673-4465