Rogers Police Chief Jeffrey Beahen will join the Minnesota Twins lineup just as the team heads south for spring training next month.
But Beahen, a Robbinsdale native and veteran of 39 years of law enforcement, said that much of what he does “will never be seen, felt or heard by the fans” who visit Target Field. That’s because he will be the ballpark’s new director of security.
The Twins’ Matt Hoy, the senior vice president for operations, said that hiring Beahen wasn’t about specific threats but the team’s recognition of evolving safety needs at large venues.
“We just have felt the changing world we’re in,” Hoy said.
Among the unseen measures he will develop and coordinate, Beahen mentioned radiation and heat sensors, vehicle monitors and safeguarding the power grid and crisis communications systems.
Much of his work, he said, will involve outreach, informing the community about safety measures.
Major League Baseball hasn’t moved as forcefully as the National Football League in restricting what fans can bring into ballparks.
In the fall of 2013, the NFL banned all bags and purses larger than 4½ by 6½ inches, except for clear plastic tote bags up to 12 by 6 by 12 inches. Baseball has resisted that move because of its family-oriented nature and the need for blankets at spring and fall games, Hoy said.
The Twins still allow backpacks (which must be searched) and added magnetometers to the entry gates in 2014. During this offseason, the team is adding capacity to busy Gate 34 to move fans through faster.
Hoy acknowledged bag restrictions are likely for baseball at some point. But even the “bag and mag” checking that goes on is relatively small-ball compared to what fans don’t see around the ballpark.
Target Field now has to protect against incursions from drones, which have been used elsewhere in attacks. At the 2014 All-Star Game, a drone illegally flew into Target Field’s controlled airspace.
Then there’s that sweeping view of the glassy downtown skyway. Sight lines and range from the windows into the ballpark are measured to prevent a Las Vegas-style attack on fans.
One benefit: the offseason
A focus for Beahen this year will be the team’s application to the federal government for SAFETY Act liability protection. Hoy said he expects the lengthy process to culminate in an application at the end of the year.
The post-9/11 law provides liability protection for venues if they establish consistent, stringent protocols and plans that include blast mitigation materials, threat assessments, detection and screening services, sensor integration, first responder technologies, crisis management systems and venue security.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has approved more than 800 applications so far, including one for U.S. Bank Stadium.
Until now, the Twins have had a full-time staff member in charge of the 24/7 security of the ballpark. On game days, a retired Minneapolis police officer oversaw operations. Now both will report to Beahen.
Beahen has spent his police career both on the street and behind a desk. He started as one of five officers in the Elk River Police Department in 1980. Five years later he went to work for Anoka police before returning to Elk River in 1998 as assistant chief in a department that had grown to 24 officers.
He served as Elk River’s police chief from 2003 to 2010 before retiring from police work to coordinate the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s transition to a coordinated computer crime-tracking and sentencing system. In that post, he trained some 5,000 law enforcement employees throughout the state, he said.
But two years later, he took the job as police chief in Rogers. “My passion, my heart and soul were in directly serving a community,” he said.
He led the Rogers department as it grew from 12 to 20 officers and moved from a 1,600-square-foot headquarters to a modern, state-of-the-art 22,000-square-foot building.
One advantage Beahen sees in his new job is that he won’t have to worry about the busy holidays of law enforcement. In baseball, he said, “They have an offseason.”
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747 Twitter: @rochelleolson