Fourth Amendment Considerations and Application of Risk Management Principles for Pat- Down Searches at Professional Football Games


Ethics and Business Law

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pat-downs, risk management, security, fourth amendment, privacy


Because they are so strongly associated with American economy and culture, sports have been considered significant targets of terrorism attacks. As a part of their security plan, the NFL in 2005 expanded the policy to include all league games. However, some patrons objected to the pat-downs claiming that the pat-downs were a violation of their constitutional rights because they were warrantless and unreasonable government searches and seizures. The first section of this paper explores issues raised by the initial cases Johnston v. Tampa Sports Authority and Sheehan v. San Francisco 49ers and subsequent appeals, regarding the Fourth Amendment during pat-down procedures. The second part examines this security measure in the context of wider operational risk management efforts and addresses the role of risk management in providing a reasonably safe environment at a professional football game. The third part will identify risk management approaches that can assess potential threat, identify potential vulnerabilities, and recognize organizationally significant assets, infrastructures, and critical functions. This part further considers pat-searches in the context of modern developments in risk management. The final part of this paper provides concluding comments and recommendations for stadium managers regarding ways to implement risk management practices that can increase patron safety and minimize Fourth Amendment litigation while conducting pat-downs. This article differs by examining how, in light of the recent court rulings, a stadium manager can employ risk management practices to increase patron safety.

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Journal of Legal Aspects of Sport

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Copyright (c) 2010 Sport and Recreation Law Association
Journal of Legal Aspects of Sport