Police and Seized Guns

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by Malum Prohibitum, Jun 27, 2006.

  1. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    What happens to seized firearms? If your firearms are stolen, and the police recover then, are you confident of their return?

    Please read this internal memo, which is an audit of the evidence room at a police station not far from here. 170 guns were stolen, or, I mean, borrowed, from the locker room.

    Link:
    http://media.gatewayal.com/dea/images/c ... nAudit.pdf
     
  2. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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  3. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Seen over at The High Road forums . . .

    Editorial --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Review needed
    The Dothan Eagle
    Thursday, June 22, 2006


    After publication of an internal audit report characterizing the Dothan Police Department’s evidence locker as some police officers’ toy chest, Dothan Police Chief John Powell downplayed the situation, saying he was still looking into it. Despite his incomplete review, he stated no criminal action took place. While some suspensions may result, he will not recommend any terminations.

    Powell is saying the wrong things. For the credibility of the department, the reputation of the 75 percent of the police force that’s not involved and the accountability of the municipal government, he should be announcing his intent to have the audit and its finding reviewed by the state attorney general to determine whether the department’s “tradition†of making weapons and other items in the evidence room available for the asking - to police officers and, in some cases, civilians, retired or terminated officers and other city employees - violates state or federal law.

    The audit, which was presented to Powell and City Manager Mike West on Feb. 7 but not released until June 16 following a public records request by the Eagle, uncovered a startling culture among at least 25 percent of the police force:

    - A complete inventory of the evidence room has never been completed.
    - 170 firearms listed as being in evidence were not in the evidence room.
    - After Powell informed officers to bring back any items they had “checked out†of the evidence room, 40 officers returned 102 firearms and two former officers returned four firearms.
    - Officers had stolen guns that had been recovered but not returned to the rightful owners.
    - Officers had weapons that had been logged as destroyed.
    - Officers had weapons that had been “checked out†by other officers.
    - Civilians and non-police city employees were allowed to “check out†weapons from the evidence room.
    - Evidence such as power tools, televisions, cameras and stereo equipment were listed as “condemned for law enforcement purposes.†Condemnation of such material is an action of the court.
    - There are no controls regarding disposal of the guns.
    - Guns marked for destruction were given to officers who asked for them.
    - One officer returned 13 guns; another returned seven.
    - The audit reports 25 percent of the force - including 18 supervisors - are implicated in the evidence room hand-outs.

    The report raises far more questions than it answers. Why would an officer want a weapon that would turn up as stolen, destroyed or returned to an owner if run through a national law enforcement database? While it’s reasonable that an officer would request an additional weapon as a back-up to his standard equipment, why would an officer have seven? Or 13? Of what legitimate use to law enforcement is a power tool or a stereo? Why is the inventory of the evidence room managed haphazardly on index cards in a file box as well as in standard police computer programs? If a police officer has possession of a stolen weapon that has been recovered but not returned to its owner, is he or she guilty of receiving stolen property?

    There are written rules, procedures and accreditation guidelines dictating the management of evidence, particularly firearms. This structure was subverted, resulting in wide distribution of weapons that should be under the control of the police department’s evidence room.
    The audit report should have triggered an immediate review by an unbiased, external law enforcement entity and public disclosure of the audit findings, followed by an extensive overhaul of the management and tracking procedures of the evidence room.

    Instead, the city kept the audit under wraps and disclosed the results only after a public documents request, followed by Powell’s assertion that no laws have been broken and that some of the officers involved may not have known that taking weapons and other items from the evidence room for their personal use was prohibited.

    “I don’t want to penalize an officer that is unfamiliar with code and thought it was acceptable practice,†he said.

    As a career lawman, Powell is certainly familiar with a concept of justice with an origin so ancient it has its own Latin phrase: Ignorantia juris non excusat - Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

    If it were, many defendants would go free.


    This story can be found at: http://www.dothaneagle.com/servlet/S...=1149188655001
     
  4. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    Seized firearms

    I read a statute somewhere that says a stolen gun should be returned to its rightful owner when it is no longer needed by the prosecutor as evidence in a criminal case on the thief or the thug found in possession of it. If the gun is not needed as evidence, such as if it was just found abandoned or otherwise found under circumstances that it cannot be tied to any particular criminal nor any yet-unsolved crime, then it would not be needed as evidence and it would be returned ASAP.

    I don't know what kind of documentation the "rightful owner" would have to show the local police or Sheriff's office in order to pick up the gun. I guess it would depend on many factors, including where and when the gun was reported stolen, and who called the police and held himself out to be the gun's owner. I also don't know if the rightful owner would be asked to certify that he or she is not a prohibited person-- felon, alien, subject of a restraining order, etc.

    In practice, many guns are stolen from owners who cannot supply the police with an accurate description of the gun, including the serial number. In many other cases, the victim can supply this information but the police department doesn't type the information accurately into the computer. Thus, thugs are often caught with guns that we suspect are stolen, but the cops cannot match the gun to the incident report, often filed months or years previously, in another jurisdiction, where it was reported stolen.
     
  5. viper32cm

    viper32cm New Member

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    I think someone lost the rule of law in Alabama.

    This makes me think, maybe I should add serial numbers to my "inventory" file that I keep.
     
  6. USMC - Retired

    USMC - Retired Active Member

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    More than just serial numbers you should have a complete physical discription of each gun to include make, model, serial number, action type, cal/gauge, metal finish, stock finish/material, barrel length and if posible date of purchase or manufacture. I go as far as keepping digital and printed pictures of each gun. I do this is mainly for insurance reasons but it will also help in recovery.