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Bags permanently prohibited from Big House

BY VALIANT LOWITZ
Daily Staff Reporter
Published October 12, 2009

A ban on bags of any size at Michigan Stadium during home football games is now permanent, the Department of Public Safety announced today.

The policy, which was first implemented for the Indiana game, extends to all bags, including, but not limited to, camera bags, purses and fanny packs. Exceptions may be granted for medical reasons, but patrons are required to show documentation — a prescription or written authorization — to security before entering the stadium.

DPS has instructed attendees to bring permitted items that will not fit into pockets, like medicine and medical equipment, in clear plastic bags no larger than the gallon size.

In an interview today, DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown said the majority of items that are not prohibited are children’s necessities, like diapers and bottles.

Brown said the new policy will allow police officers to focus on more important aspects of stadium security.

“(Security) will be able to focus their attention on other security measures and not be distracted by a lot of bags and wondering what is in those bags,” she said.

Though no specific threats have been issued toward Michigan Stadium, Brown said officials from the office felt that the change in protocol was necessary for attendees' safety.

“Officers are warned about certain areas that continue to be certain threats, such as sports arenas,” Brown said.

Officials first instituted a no-bag policy in Nov. 2001 in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. For the 2002 season, security was stepped up further, requiring students to present MCards at the gate for the first time.

That bag restriction was lifted during the 2002 season.

Brown said prohibiting all bags should help decrease the risk of crime at games.

“It will reduce the potential for people who wish to commit crimes to create a problem,” said Brown.

Other items like cameras and binoculars are still permitted provided they are not in a bag. Stadium security reserves the right to search all items brought into the stadium.

The decision to tighten security at the Big House comes after federal agents arrested suspected terrorist Najibullah Zazi in Denver at the end of last month. Zazi was believed to have been plotting an attack on New York trains with backpack bombs. Stadiums across the country were alerted at the time that Zazi could have potentially been planning attacks on sports venues, prompting several to alter their security policies, including the University of Michigan.