On Saturday night, Spokane, Washington County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich was attending a charity event before the Spokane Chiefs’ hockey game. When Knezovich walked into the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, he was stopped by arena officials who told him he wasn’t allowed to carry his duty weapon inside.
Ran into a new level of insanity at the Spokane Arena tonight they disarmed an on duty law enforcement officer tonight. Me. Amazing
— Ozzie Knezovich (@SheriffOzzie) February 12, 2017
“They disarmed me at the door and I’m on duty,” Knezovich told the Spokesman-Review. “I had to go put my gun in the car.”
The incident occurred after the arena implemented new security measures in September, part of which included denying entry to those with knives and firearms. While law enforcement officers are supposed to be exempt from the procedure, arena officials claim Knezovich was denied entry with his service weapon, because he was out of uniform.
“I can understand if we are off duty, if there’s liquor being sold there, I can understand that. But when you are on duty and representing the county at an event, I’ve just never heard anything like this,” Knezovich told KHQ. “Many, many of the active shooter type situations that happen in this nation have been stopped by off duty police officers carrying their weapons.”
When the Spokesman-Review asked arena officials about the incident, their answer reverted back to Sheriff Knezovich’s attire:
Kevin Twohig, executive director of the Public Facilities District that operates the arena, said he couldn’t comment on the incident because he did not know what had happened. In general, on-duty officers in uniform are allowed to keep their guns, but officers not in uniform are not, he said.
“If they’re not in uniform how would we know they’re on duty?” he said.
When KHQ broke the initial story, Sheriff Knezovich responded to residents’ comments and questions on Facebook. One resident suggested no firearms should be allowed in the venue, to which Knezovich responded:
I would point out 3 things 1st as the elected Sheriff I’m never off duty. 2nd the staff knew who I was, were respectful however they were told no law enforcement out of uniform allowed carrying guns. 3rd I was acting in my official capacity in civil cloths which I and many officers/deputies do on a daily basis. Could you imagine if we were conducting an investigation and our suspect went to the arena and on duty plain cloths investigators were not allowed in. This is insanity at its worst. You do not disarm on duty law enforcement. One last thing, if at some point you’re in the arena and an active shooter situation happens, just who do you think will be responding to save you and your family/friends? Answer every LEO in the area on or off duty. Hope that puts this in perspective for you.
According to Knezovich, uniformed, on-duty officers who were providing security for the event were also denied entry.
…These rules [regarding weapons] do not apply to on duty Law enforcement officers. I’ve already received an apology from the Arena management for the way I was treated. What you also don’t know is that they tried to prevent uniformed officers from entering. They were there for security…
Sheriff Knezovich explained the ordeal to KHQ: