Spokane (WA) Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich was turned away from the Spokane Arena when he showed up armed and in plainclothes to watch a law enforcement charity game by security guards citing an arena policy that allows no one but uniformed officers to be armed. Knezovich is now challenging the facility’s policy, which he says puts officers and risk and violates a state law that should allow concealed carriers to attend games and events while armed as well.
It all started when concert promoters started telling stadiums and arenas that performers wouldn’t go on stage unless someone could assure their safety.
“We want our guests to feel secure when they are in the building, and we want our employees to have a safe work environment,” said Kevin Twohig, Spokane Arena.
And that’s when the Spokane Arena decided it would install metal detectors. However, when off-duty police officers showed up with concealed weapons, they were turned away.
The arena started looking at ways to allow cops to by-pass the security checkpoints but the restrictive policies were still in place when Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich showed up to watch a law enforcement charity game.
“I went in like I’ve done the past six, seven years,” said Knezovich. “This time I was stopped at the door and told I couldn’t enter carrying a weapon.”
If the sheriff had been in uniform, he could have kept his gun. Now, he’s worried about his plain-clothed detectives having to stop the surveillance if their crook is heading to a game or show.
“We may be holding a security detail,” said Knezovich. “There are a ton of things we do on a daily basis out of uniform.”
So now the arena’s board of directors are ready to change their policy and admit armed officers with the proper credentials.
“They have looked at their policy, and that policy is going to be scrapped,” said Knezovich. “All law enforcement, on and off duty, will be able to enter the arena carrying their weapons.”
You should know that any officer who decides he wants to carry a gun in here off duty cannot be drinking while doing so. That’s a violation of their department’s policy.
Meanwhile, the sheriff says the arena is breaking state law by not letting people who hold concealed pistol licenses bring their guns inside the arena.
It’s nice to see a sheriff concerned not only about the policy violating the rights of his officers, but of lawfully-armed concealed carriers as well. There are many sheriffs and police chiefs around the nation who would have been upset that they or their officers were denied access and would have only challenged the policy as it affected their departments. Sheriff Knezovich is taking the wider approach, and fighting for all law-abiding citizens.