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Edina Police Take Over Airport Escorts for Minnesota Vikings

The department is not offering the team “special treatments because they’re athletes,” police chief Jeff Long said.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.
The Edina Police Department has taken over the job of escorting the Minnesota Vikings to the airport.

The Vikings, as is common for most Minnesota sports teams, go through security screenings at an "off-site" location and then need to be escorted to the airport tarmac.

From 2009 through this past August, the team received 38 escorts from the State Patrol, with the team paying the patrol about $300 per time, according to a report in the Star Tribune.

Edina Police Chief Jeff Long agreed to take over the job this summer after deciding that the department would not be providing the team “special treatments because they’re athletes.”

"The TSA allows some 'off-site' pre-flight security checks under strict guidelines," he explained in a blog post. "Large organizations such as the Vikings have been granted this right under the rules that the TSA has set.  This is different than what you often see in large college football towns where the local police drive the team buses through city streets with lights and sirens blaring for no particular reason except to celebrate the team."

Long told the Star Tribune that Edina police are not “escorting them at 90 miles an hour.”

“Personally, I’m not a huge Vikings fan,” he said. “I’m not awe-struck by any of these people.”

Eden Prairie, where the Vikings training facility is located, turned down a request to provide escorts for the team because, as a spokesman told the paper, “we didn’t want to set a precedent for supplying employment of that nature.”

Long offered further explanation of the procedure at his city blog:

The guidelines set by the TSA indicate that once these pre-flight, “off-site,” passengers complete their security check, that the aviation passengers are to remain in a sterile environment to avoid compromising the search. In order to comply with TSA procedures, the Minnesota Vikings asked us to assist with the TSA transport to the airport. Without going into great detail and compromising security procedures, it is our job to ensure the busses are not tampered with in any way. It is the TSA’s job to ensure the interior of the busses stay secure.

I am aware that anytime a sports team is seen in a caravan, that it may be perceived as “special treatment.” In this case, it is not special treatment. Our department is reimbursed for more than 100 percent of our costs incurred by assisting the Vikings with TSA guidelines. Our job is not about player security, it is about aviation safety.

Although not everyone will agree on topics related to sports, aviation or police work, I am proud of the work we do and of the confidence the Vikings and the TSA place in our department. 

Mike B. December 09, 2013 at 04:19 PM
This will make it easy for Edina police to ticket the Vikings' bus for going 57 MPH down Highway 100.
David F December 10, 2013 at 08:44 AM
Not clear why Edina Police got involved with this job. The Vikings headquarters and practice facility is in Eden Prairie. The price tag for doing this seems pretty low considering all the administrative cost of doing something like this on a regular basis and I didn't realize the Edina Police department was for hire.
Scott December 10, 2013 at 09:00 AM
Most police agencies have officers that work off duty or part time events. Churches, charity organizations, public schools, Southdale Center, and private businesses hire officers all the time to cover their events. Examples would be traffic direction, employee issues, sporting events for the schools, art fairs, charity walks or runs, and the list goes on. The Viking facility is on the opposite side of the shared border street with Edia and Eden Prairie so location is not a big deal.
Scott December 10, 2013 at 09:03 AM
The Edina PD has never issued a citation on Highway 100 for 57 in a 55. Anyone who claims it to have happened is lying. The average speed cited on the Highways in Edina is 16 MPH over the limit, which equates to 71 in a posted 55 zone. Thank you EPD for all your hard work on reducing the speeds on the highways where the injury rate is far higher with crashes than on the surface streets.
Jeff L December 10, 2013 at 12:07 PM
Really?! That slow of a news day that the Patch had to take an article from the StarTribune and the City Police Chiefs Blog?? Im glad the cops are doing this. How has this affected anyone, except those that dont have to wait in line behind 100 players? Boring......
Mike B. December 10, 2013 at 12:53 PM
I am guessing the Vikings force their players to take the bus. If they allowed the players to drive themselves, half of them would be arrested for DUI!
Mike B. December 13, 2013 at 05:58 PM
The police escorts for the Vikings seems to be another indication that the Edina Police force is overstaffed.
David F December 13, 2013 at 09:55 PM
I have heard Edina has the highest number of policeman per capita in the Twin Cities.

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