FOP: Off-duty police officers denied access to concert at The Pa - WDRB 41 Louisville News

FOP: Off-duty police officers denied access to concert at The Palace over firearms

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Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A number of law enforcement officers were denied entry to The Palace for a concert Wednesday night because of their firearms, and Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad is sounding off about it.

According to Dave Mutchler, president of FOP Lodge 614, it happened during the WAMZ Acoustic Jam concert at The Palace, which is managed by Live Nation, a California-based live events company.

"Evidently they've had some policy changes recently and we had several police officers who were there to enjoy the event who were off-duty who were denied entrance because they were armed," Mutchler said. "Obviously they were given the opportunity to secure their weapons somewhere else in coming to the event, but we run into some problems with that."

Mutchler explained that, "We have a policy here at LMPD that, when we're in Jefferson County -- anytime if we're off-duty -- that we're required to be armed."

Mutchler said the request to remove their weapons could not be obeyed.

"They were put into a little bit of a dilemma that they couldn't solve," he said. "Obviously they had bought tickets. They wanted to enjoy the concert. But at the same time they didn't want to be put into a position where they were violating the policy of the police department."

As a result, Mutchler said the officers contacted him last night -- and he blames mass shooting incidents like the recent events in San Bernardino for causing public nervousness about firearms, even in the hands of law enforcement.

"It caused quite a stir," he said. "It's an interesting topic because we understand that there's going to be a reaction when these things happen around the country -- San Bernardino -- and around the world, Paris or wherever the case might be. But I think everybody kind of needs to be careful not to take a swing so far that it becomes almost ridiculous."

He added that off-duty police officers need to carry their firearms for their own safety -- and the safety of the public.

"In fact, it's a very bad situation for off-duty officers when they're put in that situation, because we're required to take action when we see criminal activity in Jefferson County," he said. "And if an officer is there, and they're not armed, and they need to take a police action, it's going to be a difficult thing to accomplish knowing that you don't have your tools with you and you're not armed."

Mutchler said the FOP is reaching out to Live Nation in the hopes that the company will reconsider its policy and "realize that having off-duty officers who are armed is a good thing."

"This isn't a private party," he added. "The public is coming to these concerts."

The controversy caused Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad to issue a statement Thursday afternoon:

"We were surprised to learn that some off-duty LMPD officers were denied entry last night to an event at the Louisville Palace because they were carrying a firearm.  It is our job to do what we can to keep our community safe.  To that end, our officers are required to be armed at all times while in Jefferson County.  Given today’s climate, we would think most businesses would welcome armed and well trained police officers, on or off-duty, to help out should there be a problem.  We hope we are able to work with the management of the Louisville Palace to find some resolution to this situation."

WDRB News attempted to contact Live Nation, but thus far, they have not commented on the issue. A spokesperson for The Palace has refused to comment.

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