And in other news… this popped up in my facebook feed this morning: Off-Duty Georgia Campus Officers Attending Football Games Told to Leave Guns at Home. As a veteran police officer with over 30 years of experience and well over 25 of those years spent as a trainer / firearms instructor, I can’t think of a single good reason for such a request or policy.
I have participated in other debates about whether or not off-duty officers should be allowed to carry their weapons at NFL football games. The general consensus was that YES, they should be permitted. The only caveat was that IF they were going to carry then they shouldn’t partake of alcoholic beverages. Let’s be brutally honest: if you’re going to carry, you shouldn’t drink alcohol. If, God forbid, you have to get involved in something off-duty and find yourself having to use lethal force, the last thing you need is to have any measurable blood alcohol content during the follow up investigation. That’s just common sense.
But we’re not talking about the NFL (For the record, I think their policy is stupid). We’re talking about a university football stadium for college football games. According to the article, Chief Laura McCollough issued an email that restricted the carry of weapons to uniform officers specifically working the event and identified as “Event Police” by way of a special wristband (because, you know, a uniform is not enough). There is a piece of the email that addresses on-duty and in uniform officers who want to stop in at the stadium during the game, and it restricts their entry points to ages manned by a uniformed officer (and let’s hope it’s one wearing that special wristband) AND it says the on-duty uniformed officer must identify themselves to the Event Police. Um… again… because the uniform is insufficient?
Then I reread her email and realized that one part of it requires ON-duty police officers who are NOT in uniform to be disarmed. “No… officers in plain clothes, will be allowed to bring a weapon, open or concealed, into the stadium.” So, all you vice guys, sorry – you just have to leave your weapon somewhere else. She has an answer for that too. According to the email, law enforcement officers are permitted to have their weapons in their vehicles “as long as they are secured and the officer has proper credential showing permission to carry a weapon.”
Has no one ever taught this Chief of Police that leaving weapons “secured” in a vehicle isn’t leaving them secured at all? Doesn’t being ON duty but unarmed violate most general orders requiring an officer to be armed? Does this Chief have so little faith in her officers that she’d rather disarm them than let those heinous and vile guns into the stadium?
Her closing paragraph is sales pitch for the event in question! “Hey… we want you to come and spend your money and we have special deals for law enforcement, because we appreciate you so much, BUT… we don’t like you enough to trust you with your guns when you’re off-duty or not in uniform.” Yes, I paraphrased, but that’s the basic message of this email.
Shame on you, Chief. I don’t know what brought this on, but it feels to me like some bureaucrat somewhere said, “Ya’ know, Chief… we don’t want any guns in the stadium unless it’s absolutely necessary, so make sure only the on-duty and uniformed police officers who HAVE to be there have their weapons. Everyone else has to leave them someplace else.” I get that everyone needs job security and maybe you couldn’t tell said bureaucrat to shave his outlook where the sun don’t shine, but this type of action is unacceptable. It kills morale and leads your officers to have less faith in your ability to lead not to mention how much you’ll back them if they ever do the right thing but get publicly smeared for it.
Do the right thing now, Chief. Issue a statement that justifies why you took such an action OR simply issue the apology for it. I’m sure your intentions were good, but your approach and reasoning needs help… serious help.