(PHOTO AND STORY: KHQ.COM)
Spokane Arena leaders have a meeting to discuss policy changes Tuesday after a weekend of controversy. Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said he was not allowed to bring his service weapon to a charity event at the facility Saturday evening.
"When I walked in, I was told I couldn't bring in my weapon," Knezovich said. "I said wait a minute, I'm on duty. They said we have a rule, you can't bring your weapon in."
The sheriff said he complied. He was just trying to get to his duties inside for a charity hockey match, but the experience left him very uneasy.
KHQ took his concerns straight to top arena officials who said the whole thing has been unfortunate.
KHQ asked the CEO of Spokane's Public Facilities District who runs the arena if he wishes this would have been handled differently.
"If he had been dressed in uniform, sure, we always would have let him in," said Kevin Twohig. "It just surprised us the sheriff didn't look like the sheriff."
It's a point that doesn't hold up to Knezovich.
"It doesn't matter if I'm in uniform or out of uniform," he said. "If I'm on duty, that's the distinguishing mark. I have a lot of detectives who wear plain clothes."
Policy adjustments are in motion according to Twohig.
Arena leaders told Knezovich in a meeting Monday that law enforcement, regardless of their clothing, will soon be permitted to carry their service weapons inside at all times.
"We are actually planning to issue off duty officers an ID card that allows them to come in," Twohig said. "It's just taken us awhile to go through that process."
"They were apologetic for what happened," Knezovich said. "The result is the RCW that exempts law enforcement both on duty, off duty and retired will be honored by the arena. People in that category will be able to go to the arena with their firearms."
Knezovich said he did discuss with arena staff what this means for civilians with a concealed weapon permit. It's unclear if any changes will be made on that front.