HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Most of the time off-duty officers carry around their service weapon without an issue. Recently, several officers they say they were denied bringing them into the Von Braun Center even after showing their credentials.
One Florence Police officer, who wishes to remain anonymous, told us that he was told by VBC security that only off-duty officers from the Huntsville Police Department and Madison County Sheriff`s Office could bring in their gun.
On the VBC`s website, the rules clearly state weapons or dangerous devices of any kind are prohibited, including guns.
After searching the website, long time attorney Mark McDaniel and WHNT News 19's Aron Cantrell couldn`t find any exceptions. On the door of the facility, a sign is posted stating that there are no firearms allowed, except for law enforcement. It doesn't specify which agencies are included or excluded.
"This post online says weapons are not allowed, that's what the rules say. Now we know people hired for security can have weapons," Attorney Mark McDaniel said.
The Florence officer said he wants to know why off-duty officers from the Huntsville Police Department and Madison County Sheriff`s Office can bring in their gun, and no other officers can.
"You can go to the extreme and say well a person from another county can come in and say you are denying us our equal protection under the law of the 14th Amendment in the Constitution," McDaniel explained.
The VBC has declined to comment, but the city attorney Trey Riley said Huntsville Police Officers and Madison County Sheriff deputies are familiar with the center, and they can bring their weapons inside.
These officers have been specifically trained, knowing the VBC's layout and security procedures. Off-duty officers are often hired to work security for events.
Riley said the concern is if an off-duty officer from another agency comes in with their weapon and something bad happen; how can security tell they`re simply an officer and not the "bad guy"?
"In the rules are there exceptions, written exceptions? Where you can get online and see that for Huntsville Police Officers and Madison County Sheriff`s deputies are allowed. If they`re there then so be it. If you just got some kind of understanding or some kind of unspoken rule that`s not online or the in the rules then that`s a different story," McDaniel explained.
Riley said this rule isn`t intended to disrespect law enforcement members outside of HPD and the Madison County Sheriff`s Office.
Riley said he only offers legal advice to the VBC board, but the actual rules and regulations are something the board makes.
A spokesperson for the VBC said there`s a board meeting next week and this discussion may be brought up.