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Judge rules off-duty officers can have weapons at Vikings games

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A court has ruled against a National Football League policy that bans off-duty Minnesota police offers from bringing their guns to Vikings games.

KSTP reports a judge in Hennepin County District Court ruled in favor of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association and the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis in a lawsuit against the NFL Firearms and Weapons Policy that bans armed police officers from attending NFL games.

The lawsuit stems from an incident in December of last year, in which an off-duty Minneapolis police officer attending a Vikings game was prevented from entering the Metrodome until he left his weapon in his car.

The organization requested a declaratory judgement to counter the NFL's policy so off-duty police officers could enter the stadium with their weapons.

The Policy

League officials told all NFL team owners in September to prohibit off-duty law enforcement officers from bringing guns into stadiums.

NFL Spokesman Greg Aiello said the policy is designed to keep fans safe, the Associated Press reports.

In an e-mail to the New York Post last spring, Brian McCarty a spokesman for the NFL, said the current security at stadiums is more than adequate.

"The on-duty law enforcement personnel assigned to NFL stadiums are specially trained and required to participate in weekly meetings pertaining to pre-game and game day security and law enforcement planning, strategy and emergency response procedures and protocols."

But the league's policy has also come under fire in other states.

Texas, for example, is not included in the league's ban. Off duty officers in Dallas and Houston only need to check in at a specific gate and inform security where they are sitting to be allowed to keep their gun.

According to the Post, the sergeants union in New York is also planning legal action against the policy. The Sergeants Benevolent Association also filed a friend of the court brief supporting the Minnesota officers.

The Lawsuit

The Minnesota police organizations filed the lawsuit in February. They claimed it's important for off-duty police officers, who may be expected to intervene in any criminal action that occurs inside the stadium, to have their guns

"Minnesota's police officers need to carry their weapons inside stadiums used by the NFL, and the public will be safer because of it," President of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis John Delmonico told KSTP. "Police officers are always willing and ready to protect the public at a moment's notice, and the ability given to them by state law to keep possession of their weapon gives them personal protection against any potential threat."

The NFL claimed property ownership and limitations of the event ticket allow the organization to supersede state law.

The judge disagreed, siding with the police organizations, which said NFL policies should not trump state law.

For now, the NFL plans to continue enforcing the policy at TCF Bank Stadium for Vikings game. Aiello told the AP the court order allows them to do so until the matter is resolved.

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