New Kansas Gun Law Means Extra Bucks For Overland Park Police At KU Games

Sep 11, 2017

An Overland Park police officer helps a KU fan at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. KU contracted with Overland Park to provide security at newly installed metal detectors.
Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

When you go to a University of Kansas football game this year, you'll notice some old things and some new things.

The old: KU seems to be heading toward another bad season. The Jayhawks were pounded Saturday by Central Michigan 45-27.

The new: It is a little slower getting into Memorial Stadium because of new security measures linked to a law that allows almost anyone to carry a concealed gun on campus. However, KU, along with Kansas State and Wichita State, decided it was safer to ban guns from sporting events. To do that, the universities had to buy metal detectors and staff them with armed police officers.

Many of the metal detectors at KU were secured by officers from the Overland Park Police Department (OPPD). Fifteen OPPD officers were at the stadium Saturday, according to a spokesman for the department. They don't come cheap, as spelled out in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the department and KU Athletics.

"The hourly rate for law enforcement services provided by OPPD officers pursuant to this MOU will be $66/hour, in quarter-hour increments," the MOU states. For Saturday's game, that comes to $990 an hour.

The MOU also says the officers are on the clock from the time they leave Overland Park until they return from the game. KU transports the officers from Overland Park to Lawrence in vans, the department says. Officers worked nine and a quarter hours Saturday, according to OPPD. That's $9,157 for the Central Michigan game. 

KU Athletics has said it will spend $1 million on added security at football and basketball games to prevent guns from coming in, but it has only provided very broad information.

"Because this is a security-related issue, we are going to provide very general information rather than getting specific," KU Associate Athletics Director Jim Marchiony said in an email in July. But he said money will be spent on"metal detectors, wands, gates, fences, uniformed officers, additional event staff, signage and various other details."

In an email Tuesday Marchiony said deputies from the Johnson County Sheriff and Douglas County Sheriff also staffed the metal detectors. He also says the movement of fans into the stadium went smoothly. "Fans, for the most part, have paid attention and seem to have heeded our call to get to the gates early."

Lucas Johnson of Lawrence shows the $15 clear plastic bag he had to buy at the gate of Memorial Stadium in Lawrence. KU Athletics has banned most bags that aren't clear.
Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

In addition to adding metal detectors and cops, KU, with a few exceptions, only allows clear bags into the stadium. KU made that policy public in April but not everyone got the message.

Lucas Johnson of Lawrence has two young children, including a baby. KU wouldn't let him and his wife bring in their baby bag. Instead, KU sold him a $15 clear, plastic bag with a Jayhawk sticker on it.

"Look, I could just peel that off," he said in the stands Saturday.

Sam Zeff covers education for KCUR and a member of the Kansas News Service.  He's also co-host of KCUR's political podcast Statehouse Blend Kansas. Follow him on Twitter @samzeff.