Moments after anthem protests, union president suggests eliminating police escorts for NFL players

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Fraternal Order of Police President Steve Zona suggested Sunday that police no longer escort teams to games.

Zona's tweets on the matter came moments after several NFL players from the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars took a knee and locked arms during the National Anthem.

"Why does JSO do free escorts for NFL teams from hotel to stadium on game day?" Zona tweeted Sunday morning. He followed that up with this tweet: "Using blue lights and sirens.  Running red lights and endangering citizens."

He continued: "Is the NFL special?  Fans make it there fine without escorts. Let's stop this dangerous practice."

First Coast News asked Zona about his comments today. He admits the kneeling during the anthem prompted the timing of his tweets.

Zona said he's worked traffic near Everbank and said JSO will send five to eight police cars and motorcycles for the visiting team escorts.

Police will open and close exits and run red lights, which Zona calls flat out dangerous.

"If something was to happen, if someone didn't see them coming or they went through a red light and they killed somebody, or somebody died as a result of it because they didn't see them, is that a justifiable use of police resources, or how would you feel if you were that family member?" Zona said.

In an e-mail to First Coast News, a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office spokesperson said escorting visiting teams to stadiums ensures events happen on time and reduces traffic.

Officer escorts receive specialized training. The dangers lie in other drivers who don't follow officer instructions during police escorts, JSO said.

Zona said he'll be having follow-up conversations with the sheriff and undersheriff.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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