Referee arrests prompt officials to request change in security
MANDEVILLE, La. - The Greater New Orleans Football Officials Association called a special meeting Monday after two referees were arrested at a football game on the Northshore.
It happened at St. Paul's School in Covington Friday night. Now, the association wants changes made to game security.
At St. Paul's School in Covington Monday afternoon, it was business as usual on the football field. But just days earlier, during an evening game against Mandeville High, two referees were taken off the field in handcuffs.
"It really had nothing to do with the fans," said Richard Hammany, who witnessed the altercation.
Witnesses have differing views of what transpired Friday night. What seems sure, though, is that people standing on the sidelines were inching closer and closer to the field, so a referee asked a Covington police officer to move the crowd back.
"He was upset that the officer said, 'You do your job, I'll do mine,' meaning, 'I have it under control just go ahead, finish the game,'" Hammant explained.
Witnesses said a verbal argument with at least one Covington officer ensued, and refs Chris Gambino and Jim Radcliff were arrested. Their arrests prompted the Louisiana High School Athletic Association to launch an investigation.
"It's certainly concerning any time we have a coach or official or anything have to be arrested for whatever reason from a game," said Todd Guice, president of the LHSAA executive committee.
In addition, the Louisiana High School Officials Association criticized the arrests, saying the referees acted appropriately and had the authority to clear the stadium, if needed.
Parents of football players and coaches that we spoke to say they've never experienced an incident quite like this one and are surprised to hear that two referees were arrested on public intimidation charges while working a game.
"Never witnessed anything like that before, no, never," said Coach Joe DeSalvo.
"That's something you normally never hear of," said parent Keaton Cromartie. "That was an odd thing that happened."
"I feel like they should've handled it a little better in front of the kids," said parent Kenneshel Adams. "I know they were high school students, but they're still kids so they should've handled it a little better."
Now, the Greater New Orleans Football Officials Association requests that both schools only use St. Tammany Parish deputies for game night security. And according to the association, the arrested referees may take action against the arresting Covington police officer.
After being arrested, both Chris Gambino and Jim Radcliff posted bond and were released from jail Saturday.