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Panthers show leniency implementing new NFL security policy

New NFL security policies banning many types of bags debuted Thursday to complaints at other NFL cities. Bank of America Stadium on Friday was more lax with the new rules at the Carolina Panthers’ first preseason game against the Chicago Bears.

Many fans with purses and camera cases that are prohibited were allowed in with the items this time and given a flier on what the rules are. The team inspected items on a case-by-case basis, letting in items on the borderline, Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton said.

Dayton said the Panthers’ policies Friday were not a reaction to the complaints Thursday at other stadiums across the country. The rollout strategy at Bank of America Stadium, he said, had already been planned.

Wayne Joye, 67, of Wilmington was allowed to bring his Nikon camera bag, though security personnel told him he couldn’t bring it to the next game.

“This is the best way to do it,” Gigi Pam said of the progressive implementation while holding her purse in the stadium concourse. She was allowed in even though her purse was too big. Fans are only allowed to carry things in small clutch purses or clear bags no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches.

Security was strict about certain policies, though, forcing some fans to either throw away backpacks and seat cushions with zippers or take them back to their cars.

The league did not change the list of items that are allowed in the stadium but is now regulating more strictly the way those items can be carried. Seat cushions with zippers or pockets are also banned out of fear that someone could conceal something in them.

The rules were put in place after April’s Boston Marathon bombing and are intended to speed up lines for security and keep fans safe. Dayton said there were no lines at any gates at kickoff.

After Atlanta and San Francisco forced fans to leave their purses on shelves outside the stadiums Thursday, patrons in those cities complained about having to wait up to an hour after the game to retrieve their bags. Some even said they never got their bag back and think it was given to somebody else.

Though Bank of America Stadium was lax Friday, many fans went out of their way to comply with the clear-bag policy.

Janine Richmond stopped at a Walmart on her way up from Charleston to buy vinyl and blue duct tape with flowers on it. She then crafted her own clear tote bag to carry her phone, keys and other items.

Kimberly Telle of Shelby dug up a clear Subway bag to put her valuables in. Despite the hassle, Telle said she understands the need for the policy.

Feldman: 704 358-5384
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