Charges against pair still pending
The Greater New Orleans High School Officials Association will work the remaining home football games at St. Paul’s and Covington High schools this season, but St. Tammany Parish sheriff’s deputies — not Covington Police Department officers— will work as on-field security.
That was the resolution reached Wednesday at a meeting of Covington Mayor Mike Cooper, newly sworn-in Police Chief Tim Lentz and Eddie Allemore, president of the local officials group, after two officials were arrested during a game a week ago at St. Paul’s after a dispute with the police over crowd control.
The affair has drawn national attention, and public intimidation charges are still pending against the two officials, James Radcliffe and Chris Gambino, both of Metairie.
“We made a request that Covington and St. Paul’s only use St. Tammany deputies for field security, and that’s what we’re doing Friday night,” said Allemore, who had said his group would not work the games otherwise.
Covington plays host to Fontainebleau on Friday.
The school has traditionally split security duties between the police and the sheriff’s office, but Covington police will only work traffic control and at the gate Friday while the deputies will be posted on the field.
Covington Athletic Director Darryl Graham said there usually are only three police officers working his school’s game and they would be assigned to traffic and stadium posts.
“It’s not a big deal for us,” he said.
St. Paul’s Athletic Director Craig Ketelsen said that would be the case at the Wolves’ next home game, Nov. 1 against Ponchatoula.
“We don’t have a problem doing that,” Ketelsen said. “I know that Coach (Ken) Sears and the administration definitely want to remain with the New Orleans Officials Association.”
Both St. Paul’s and Covington High schools hire the officers and deputies as private details for their games.
Covington’s other two high schools, Northlake Christian and Archbishop Hannan, use only St. Tammany deputies.
Allemore said that while the details of last week’s arrests were discussed Wednesday, there was no request that the charges be dropped.
“That’s not my call to make,” he said. “Their legal situation is their matter.”
Lentz, who was sworn in Tuesday, said only that “things are moving in the right direction,” but would not comment on the status of the charges against Radcliffe and Gambino.
Cooper did not return phone calls requesting comment.
The hubbub began midway through the third quarter of St. Paul’s game against Mandeville.
The officials were escorted off the field, booked at the Covington jail and held until approximately 5 a.m., when they were released on bond, according to a statement released Monday by the officials’ association.
Both men worked games Saturday and will do so again this weekend, Allemore said.
After Friday’s game, then-interim Covington Police Chief Jack West said the arrests were made after an altercation.
Though no names had been released at the time, West indicated that the line judge, Gambino, asked that persons near the field at St. Paul’s Hunter Stadium be moved back because of safety concerns.
When that request was not met, West indicated, the situation escalated. When Radcliffe interceded, he too was arrested.
Records show the arresting officer was Covington police Lt. Stephen Short, whose son plays for Mandeville High School.
Allemore, himself a Covington resident, said he felt St. Paul’s officials were blameless in the matter.
“We’ve been working games at St. Paul’s for quite a few years, and they have always been overwhelmingly nice to us,” he said.
“We have a great relationship with Craig. By the time they realized what was going on, it was a police matter.”
Ketelsen said he regretted that the incident has involved Covington High School. “We want the officials to know that their safety will be assured at our games,” he said. “In fact, we have New Orleans officials here tonight working our JV game.”
St. Paul’s will play at Covington next week.
Allemore said that as far as he was concerned the matter was closed. “We’re going to go out Friday night at Covington and at other schools, do a good job, and hopefully our guys won’t have any issues at all,” he said. “It’s all about the kids, and our part is to make sure the games are officiated properly.”