Bears Sued Over Searches

The Chicago Park District is suing the Chicago Bears to stop the team from conducting pat-down searches of fans entering Soldier Field.

The civil suit, filed in a U.S. District Court July 21st, maintains that the policy violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure.

The Park District has been at odds with the team since last year, when the frisking policy was first introduced. The team expects taxpayers to pay for the searches, which could leave the Park District and police open to lawsuits, according to the complaint.

Bears officials said the searches are mandated by the National Football League and that no problems arose when they were conducted by a private security firm at the last two games of the 2005 season.

The team wants to settle the issue through arbitration, but the Park District says the courts have already spoken, referring to a recent case in which a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan challenged the NFL policy and won.

A Florida court ruled that “it is a violation of the Fourth Amendment for a municipal corporation to pay for and conduct pat-down searches at Raymond James Stadium,” where the Bucs play.

“A general fear and threat of terrorism after 9/11 which the Bears cite in their demand for arbitration … has not decreased the Fourth Amendment’s broad protections which apply to large gatherings of citizens at public venues,” the Park District’s suit says.