SBD/October 28, 2011/Facilities

NFL To Start Using Handheld Metal Detectors At Stadiums Beginning Next Month

NFL teams will start using handheld metal detectors in November to upgrade the screening process at all 31 stadiums, according to an e-mail issued by NFL Chief Security Officer Jeffrey Miller. In the Oct. 14 e-mail obtained by SportsBusiness Journal, Miller informed stadium managers that the league plans to buy 3,100 handheld scanners from Garrett Inc. and distribute 100 to each NFL facility. There is no cost to the teams. In addition, Garrett will provide DVD instructional videos to train security personnel how to use the devices, and the league will conduct a video conference with Garrett officials demonstrating their use. The NFL's intent is for teams to phase in the scanners in an effort to identify the best way to deploy them at their stadiums. The action comes after a fan was arrested for illegally using a small stun gun at the Cowboys-Jets game Sept. 11 at MetLife Stadium. Earlier this season, the NFL implemented full patdowns at stadiums after a serious threat was identified through intelligence briefings by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. About six weeks later, the security threat remains and the current patdown system is "not an adequate response," according to Miller's e-mail. During the recent league meetings in Houston, Miller presented information on the benefits of using handheld scanners at stadium security checkpoints. After team owners approved their use, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell directed Miller to develop a plan to buy and use the scanners. League officials believe the handhelds will provide a method to screen fans and speed up crowd flow into the stadium that is more efficient than the current pat-down system. The units will "close the security gap" in the overall screening process to provide a safe game-day experience for all fans, Miller reported.

LESS INVASIVE FOR FANS: From a fan perspective, the handhelds are "much less invasive" than the patdowns and "that's great news," said Lucas Oil Stadium Dir Mike Fox. The Colts bought several scanners on their own to supplement the 100 the NFL is supplying at no charge. Whether it speeds up or slows down the flow of fans into the stadium remains to be seen, Fox said. Fox: "We won't take shipment until mid-November and as soon as we get them we will get our people trained." Contemporary Services Corp., Lucas Oil Stadium's security firm, is happy to use the devices compared with the intrusive patdowns, he said. Using those devices, or wands as they are commonly called, "will help you catch things like stun guns," said Erik Stover, a veteran stadium manager who spent a combined 13 years operating NFL facilities for the Chargers, Giants and Jets. "There is a lot of training involved." The NFL has previously used handheld metal detectors and walk-through scanners for the Super Bowl. NBA teams have been using the handheld units for the past several years to screen fans entering their arenas.
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