Police escort for the Eagles? It's all on the up and up
- January 6, 2009 - 10:34 PM
When police escorted buses carrying members of the Philadelphia Eagles down Hiawatha Avenue on Sunday after their playoff win at the Metrodome, it wasn't so much to protect the visitors from a mob of upset and angry Vikings fans, but mostly because of a requirement from the National Football League and Transportation Security Administration.
Though seeing a small fleet of squad cars guiding bus loads of highly-paid players and team execs naturally would raise eyebrows, it's all legit, said Lt. Rob Goodsell of the Minneapolis park police.
Teams that come to Minneapolis to play the Vikings are required to contract with a police agency and foot the bill for a security escort to the airport. The Minneapolis park police have been providing that service since 2001, Goodsell said.
At the end of each Vikings game, opposing players line up in a secure area of the Metrodome tunnel, where they are screened by members of the TSA. The players immediately board buses and are taken to their aircraft. The screening procedures are required by the TSA, Goodsell said.
"Occasionally, Vikings fans will throw a snowball at the buses, but our job really is to keep the buses together and make sure there is no outside interference," Goodsell said.
He declined to reveal just how much Vikings' opponents pay for the police service, but that all gas and wear and tear on police vehicles are fully covered.
"They got nothing on the taxpayer," Goodsell said. "They reimburse the police department very well. It certainly is not an enterprise, but they pay far more than for what they get."
Officers who do the driving are not on the clock, but rather on their own time. Goodsell said the gig is similar to security that the Vikings hire to patrol the field and the stadium during the team's games and that visiting teams hire to provide protection at their hotel.
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