Judge Nixes Security Pat-Downs at Tampa Bucs Games

Judge sides with teacher who argued that suspicionless searches violate civil liberties


TAMPA, Fla. - A judge on Thursday sided with a high school civics teacher who sued to stop security "pat-downs" at Tampa Bay Buccaneers games.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida filed a lawsuit Oct. 13 on behalf of Bucs season ticket-holder Gordon Johnston. It sought to stop Raymond James Stadium officials from conducting the "suspicionless" searches that began last month after the NFL implemented enhanced security at stadiums throughout the league.

Circuit Judge Perry Little agreed with Johnston Thursday, issuing a temporary injunction stopping the searches until the lawsuit is resolved. The next Bucs home game is Nov. 6.

The NFL said in a statement it was "disappointed" by the decision, but hadn't had a chance to review the court's opinion.

"Pat-downs at other NFL stadiums should not be affected by this ruling," the statement said. "We believe these limited screenings are reasonable and important to the protection of our fans."

Johnston testified in a hearing last week that the searches violate his constitutional rights because they were "invasive without necessity." Security would be more effective if staff spent more time watching ticket holders and less time touching them, he said.

"Why do I need to lose my rights to go to the game?" he said. "I'd say it's humiliating. If I did that to my students, do you know what would happen to me?"

The Tampa Sports Authority, which operates the stadium, approved the pat-downs in September after the NFL asked all teams to conduct them.

The Tampa Sports Authority didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.


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