Law enforcement agencies outline procedure for Bills games

Law enforcement officials and the Buffalo Bills recently revealed security procedures for the upcoming football season.

Since 2013, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office has been the lead law enforcement agency for New Era Field and the Buffalo Bills. More than two years ago, the Sheriff’s Office increased the number of visible, quick-response patrols in and around the stadium as a response to global events. Those enhancements remain today, with added roles and increased measures.

The Erie County Sheriff’s Office, the Buffalo Bills, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, and the National Football League continually review and implement effective techniques to combat possible threats, according to a release from the Sheriff’s Office. Fans will continue to see uniformed SWAT team operators, law enforcement canine units, and other specialized sheriff’s personnel on game days, as well as other agency personnel, the release said.

The Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the Orchard Park Police Department, the New York State Police, and the Buffalo office of the FBI, prepare for every event at New Era Stadium to ensure guests can focus on the game or event and enjoy the daylong experience, according to the release.

“The Western New York region enjoys a very unique partnership between all levels of law enforcement. Our collaboration and efforts provide excellent security, and we are proud to be part of this group, which allows Bills fans to have a great visit to New Era Field,” said Sheriff Tim Howard. “I know some people are still uncomfortable seeing my SWAT operators and a large police presence, but I won’t apologize for being well-prepared for the citizens of Erie County and the Bills’ fans.”

The Bills still employ private security firms, and there will be undercover security teams roaming the parking lots and inside the stadium assisting with the proactive identification and resolution of potential fan behavior or safety-related issues, the release said.

All fans should be prepared to remove their cellphones, cameras and glasses cases before they get to the front of the line to enter the stadium. Fans do not need to remove their keys, wallets or loose change. Fans are still encouraged to arrive at the gates at least one hour before kickoff, and gates open 90 minutes before kickoff.

The release said the Sheriff’s Office will maintain its commitment to increased patrols in the New Era Field parking lots and traffic posts surrounding the stadium.

Deputies assigned to the Bills parking lots will encourage fans to tailgate responsibly and follow the rules, which include no glass bottles and no binge drinking. Fans can grill food, play catch and have fun cheering on their hometown team, but the sheriff and the Bills ask fans to do so responsibly. Those individuals who are irresponsible or reckless in the parking lots or the stadium are subject to ejection, summons or arrest, the release said.

Howard said if an individual or a group can’t respect their fellow fans and ignore the Fan Code of Conduct, his deputies will take appropriate measures to allow others to enjoy the game.

As the partnership between the Bills and Sheriff’s Office continues, so does the decrease in stadium arrests and ejections, the release said. In 2017, the average number was fewer than three per game, and the number of ejections reportedly continues to decrease.

The Sheriff’s Office and the Bills jointly support the Designated Driver Program and encourage everyone to be responsible and designate someone in the group to be the designated driver.

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