Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem protest and comments about police brutality have led to the Santa Clara police union threatening to boycott the team’s games. The Santa Clara police chief responded with a statement saying he hoped to work with both sides to come to a solution and maintain fan safety first and foremost.
There has been some confusion over the role of police in stadium security, and specifically whether they are volunteering independent of their on-the-clock work as police officers. It is fairly common among stadium leases that while officers are usually volunteering for these shifts, they are viewed as part of policing duties. The games are looked at as special city events, and police officers are able to sign up for the extra shifts created by the events. They remain technically on the clock as they would for any other such events. Additionally, if not enough officers are signed up to cover stadium security, they can be assigned by a superior.
For most stadiums, there is also private security through staffing agencies, but the police officers are utilized in addition to any private security. Paying for police officers at stadium events has been a frequent point of contention when it comes to stadium financing. In Los Angeles, it remains a significant issue, with the Los Angeles Times editorial board demanding the Rams pay for police use at the stadium. USA Today ran an investigative piece about the shortfall of security at events as well.
Ideally, the chief’s letter will calm down the union to some degree, and the two sides can work out a solution. Colin Kaepernick’s protest is meant to spark a dialogue, not threats. The Santa Clara union is not the first group to threaten to withdraw security. It’s one way to leverage a situation, but it is not going to help anybody, and it potentially endangers the people attending 49ers games. Who does that help?