Warner Theatre's no-gun policy draws concern after police turned away from show

FOX 5 Chief Investigative Reporter Emily Miller reports.

- Since the deadly terrorist attacks on a theater in Paris, we have all been more aware of the threat of possible attacks on soft targets in D.C. But FOX 5 has uncovered one theater that has made D.C. police concerned for safety of theatergoers.

ISIS terrorist videos have named the nation’s capital as a target for future attacks. One line of defense is a long-standing law that requires D.C. police officers to carry their guns whenever they are in the city, whether on or off duty, so that they can respond to a crime or a crisis.

But some police officers say the Warner Theatre would not let them come into their shows with their duty weapon.

The venue is now dark for the holidays, but usually, you will see long lines of families outside before the show starts.

Earlier this month, “The Nutcracker” ballet was playing for families. But on a few occasions, off-duty D.C. police officers were turned away for carrying their guns.

The policy is listed on Warner Theatre’s website. It states, "Law Enforcement and Security Guards are not permitted to carry in the theatre.”

This actually violates D.C. law for officers in the city. They are required to carry their badge, ID and service weapon and these officers have to take action if a crime occurs in their presence.

“I can't think of any good reason to say that police professionals cannot bring their weapons with them to go enjoy a play at the Warner Theatre,” said D.C. Police Union Chairman Sgt. Delroy Burton. “God forbid something happens, but if it does, I would much rather have a police officer that’s off duty in there and can handle a situation than rely on private security guards.”

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier recently said in active shooter situations, most people are killed in less than ten minutes.

“If it's an active shooter situation, like the chief said, within the first six to ten minutes, all the damage is already done,” said Burton. “If you have a trained police officer, particularly our officers are all trained on the active shooter protocol, they can potentially end that scenario before it gets out of control and before the number of people that gets killed or seriously injured gets to be a really high number.”

We asked the Warner Theatre for a comment and they sent us an email saying:

“The safety of all who attend our shows — fans, artists and our staff — is our top priority. We have a no-weapons policy. No fans are admitted if they are carrying a weapon of any kind. We have long-held, highly detailed strict security protocols - including the hiring of uniformed armed off-duty law enforcement. These protocols are revised on a show-by-show basis and are developed in conjunction with local law enforcement officials and security experts."

Sgt. Burton said the theater's statement is “as idiotic as their policy."

“I think it's insulting to police officers and I think it’s a shame on Warner Theatre for having a policy like that,” Burton told us. “They will not see me as a customer as long as that policy is in place and I would recommend all police officers stay away from there.”

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.

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