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Police encounters with legally armed citizens and an interview with Emily Sweet are the topics of today’s podcast.

A friend of the show wrote in with some questions about police encounters with legally armed citizens.  I attempt to address those in today’s show.  I can only speak to the laws and attitudes of officers in my region of the country, so your views and opinions on the subject are welcome.  Feel free to add them in the comments section.

Also, I speak with Emily Sweet of Relatively Real who is looking for police families to feature in an upcoming television series.  The series seeks to portray officers in a positive, upbeat way.

Relativey Real is a media production company with a hand in major motion pictures (300, Battle: Los Angeles, The Pursuit of Happyness, Zombieland and about 200 more) and in television (such as Police Women).  The company CEO is Tom Forman, creator of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

If you are interested in participating in the show, get the details in the podcast and then contact Emily at policefamily@rrstaff.com.

CCW information:

Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter (upper left corner).  No spam guaranteed!

Transcript:

BlueSheepdogPodcast021

Welcome to episode number 21 of the Blue Sheepdog Podcast.

As always, my name is Richard. And today, I’ve got kind of a variety of topics we’re going to cover. First up today, we’ve got Emily Sweet.

Emily is a casting producer for “Relativity Real”, which is a production company involved in a great number of different projects including some big movies you may be familiar with, such as, “300”, “3:10 to Yuma”. And they also are involved on a number of TV projects such as, “Police Women”, which is on the TLC channel, and also “Extreme Make-over Home Edition”, and quite a bit of different projects are involved in.

But Emily is going to be on today to talk to us about a new project involved in “Police Families”, and it sounds like a really good upbeat reality show. I hate that term reality show but, it does sound like a pretty good, pretty upbeat casting us in more of a human or a positive light. So, were going to talk with her a little bit.

Also I’m going to talk today a little bit about, what do we do when we encounter a legally armed citizen on traffic stop? One of our listeners who I’ve had a kind of a pleasant conversation with an email, post a few questions, and ask that — We address those here today.

So, we’re going to talk about that a little bit both for our friends that are not in law enforcement but do carry a firearm for self-defense. And then, also from the perspective of police officers; how do we address those situations when we encounter them?

But first, let me take care of a few of our housekeeping issues. If you are a podcast listener, but you’ve never been to our website, I encourage you highly to check out our website. Podcast is only part of what we do, and it’s an important part but it is just a part.

The website, we’ve got all sorts of different training articles on there, legal updates and things. Just in the past week and a half or so, we’ve had a multi-part series running on “Police Knives”, not just the different types of knives hurled there or out there, but also, how do you carry them? Are there some methods of carry that are safe than others? Are you carrying them for self-defense? Or you’re just carrying them as a tool?

Randell [ph], one of our regular writers, has been doing a really good series on that. Also, one of our other writers, Aaron has been doing a number of articles on “Traffic Stop Safety”, and also on DUI training.

And Aaron is absolutely one of the best when it comes to investigating drug and drunk driving. Aaron is a certified DRE instructor, certified SFST instructor. He spent a lot of time as a full time DUI officer with his department. He’s also spent time, part of a Federal Drug Task Force working under cover.

So, if it comes to some types of impairment, Aaron is actually an expert in those areas, and he’s giving us a very, very good in depth, step-by-step instructional series on investigating DUI cases, or DWI depending on your state in what you call it but an absolutely excellent series.

Of course, I also threw in a variety of things. We’ve got gear reviews, and legal updates, some of the Springport decisions and things, we talk about those.

So, if you’re not going to the website already, please check that out. Also, you can connect with this on Facebook and Twitter. And our Twitter account is twitter/bluesheepdog; and then Facebook is facebook/sheepdogmedia. Somebody else, I guess, had already grabbed blue sheep dog, but we’re at facebook/sheepdogmedia, so you can connect with us there.

Obviously, you can always send me an email richard@bluesheepdog.com.  Shoot me an email. Let me know what’s on your mind. If there’s something we can cover, or you think we got it wrong on something, hey, shoot me an email. Let me know about it.

The commenting section on all the post online is also open. So, if you want to take issue with something, or relay your experiences, or offer other points of view, please do. Absolutely jump in there.

Also, one of the other components to the entire Blue Sheepdog experience is you can sign up for our newsletter. Our newsletter is absolutely free. We’re not selling your email addresses to any third party. You don’t have to give me your name or anything.  Just give me your email address, so I know where to send the newsletters, too.

We sent out our first newsletter this month, a couple of weeks ago now, I guess. And the first newsletter, I’m not going to lie, there were some technical issues on my end. And I’m just trying to get it configured right, and get it out.

But I got it out there. It had a gear review on a flashlight, new tactical flashlight. We had a training article in there from Aaron on “Surviving the Street.” And then, I also had a review of an officer involved in shooting. And unfortunately, it was a shooting which an officer was in fact killed.

And with any of the times where we have to critique other officers, especially if another officer has been injured or killed. It is done so in a matter not to point out their errors, but it’s done in a way that we’re trying to prevent whatever errors may have occurred from happening again. Because, there’s absolutely nothing worse in my mind than losing an officer to some mistake that we could’ve prevented, if we’ve just been open and talked about mistakes that have been made previously.

I’ve said it many times and I’ll continue saying it. We continue losing police officers, having them killed for making the same mistakes that we’ve been making for decades. Whether it’s not properly retaining [??] your weapon in your holster, whether it’s not wearing a vest, whether it’s not wearing your seatbelt, we continue to lose officers to the same old things.

And, that’s not necessarily the case in this particular review, but we don’t want to make those same mistakes that were made that day. We lost one officer. We don’t want to lose anymore. And I hope everyone can approach it from that view point.

So first up, let’s go ahead and talk to Emily about their new TV program.

[Segue to music]

Richard:  Alright, we’ve got today with us Emily Sweet. Emily is a casting producer for a company called “Relativity Real”. Welcome to the show Emily.

Emily:  Hi! Thanks for having me.

Richard:   Absolutely. Okay, tell us a little about who you are and what exactly you do for your company.

Emily:  Well, I work for “Relativity Real” which is the television division of “Relativity Media”, which is the company that has — they produce big feature films including “The Fighter”, “The Social Network”, and stuff like that. So we are their television division and our company is headed out by Tom Forman. So, you might be familiar with — he is the creator of “Extreme Make-over Home Edition”.

Richard:  Absolutely.

Emily:  So, yes, we are a — we’re a new company but we’re really committed to making inspirational programming, and I am here as a casting producer. So, I’m one of the people that reaches out to anyone that we need to get on the new show that we’re working on.

Richard:  And that’s why we’ve got you on today. You’re working on a new program that is going to probably interest law enforcement officers, both to watch and then also perhaps to participate in. Can you tell us a little bit about your new project?

Emily:  Yes, so we are working on a brand new show.  My company is — the company that has produced six successful seasons of “The Police Women” series on TLC.

Richard:  Okay.

Emily:  So, we are working on developing a new show that will be similar to that show, sort of informant [??] a documentary style show, but we are looking for families with multiple members working in law enforcement.  They could be in one department or perhaps in two neighboring departments but we are looking to do a positive portrayal of some really great, deserving law enforcement families.

Richard:  Okay great.  I know law enforcement a lot of time gets kind of a bad rep from folks that don’t understand us just because unfortunately, law enforcement, we kind of get into the  position where we wind up not trusting a lot of people, which is unfortunate; but cops are really just like anybody else from the community. And it sounds like you’re trying to, maybe, present that side of them.

Emily:  Exactly.  We are very interested and really portraying police officers as everyday people.  Just putting a human face on the job and making it really relatable for people so that they understand that law enforcement officers are out there.  They’re protecting us.  They’re doing great things for our communities; and then they are coming home to their families; and they’re having barbecues on the weekends; and going to movies.  They’re just like anybody else but they have a really demanding, important role in all of our cities.

Richard:  Absolutely.  How did you come upon this project?  Is this an idea you’ve come up with or was this something that was suggested to you or I guess kind of where the origins of the project?

Emily:  Well, you know, through our many seasons of working on “Police Women”. We’ve been in touched with lots of officers from all across the country, all different departments and we started to notice that it seems like it’s the kind of career that really gets into people’s blood.  And that people tend to pass down to the generations. And we came across a lot of families where the dad had been in law enforcement, and then his son, and then the son met his wife through the department and stuff like that.

So, we are just really interested in what it’s like to be really, to have the career be such a big part of your life and such a big part of your family’s life.  So, we realized there are a lot of families out there like that and we kind of just wanted to show our viewership what that’s like.

Richard:  Sounds great.  Do you have any kind of timeline on when the series might start?

Emily:  We don’t have any official taping dates or anything yet but at this point; we are still in the developmental stage where we’re really just reaching out to families and departments and organizations.  Kind of just trying to spread the word but we would love to get in touch with interested families as soon as possible in the next couple of weeks; and hopefully, we could film something in the next few months.

Richard:  Okay, and what would be the easiest way for people to get in contact with you?

Emily:  Well, the best way to get in touch with us would be to email us.  Our email address is policefamily@rrstaff.com.  So, you could shoot us an email with a brief description of your family, the department you’re from, and maybe a photo or two if you have one; or if you have any other question; or you don’t want to email, people are welcome to just give me a call. And my number is 323-860-8623.  And they can just call me up and we will discuss.

Richard:  Alright, sounds great.  Is there anything else anyone needs to know?

Emily:  I think that we’ve basically covered it.  I mean, just that, we are really devoted to uplifting family-friendly programming.  Some of the other shows that our company does are in addition to “Police Women” as we’ve also – We produced the new series “Coming Home for Lifetime” which helps police men and women reunite with their families after their tours overseas.  So, we are really just interested in the kind of shows that just make you watch. I mean, they make you feel good and you see the people that are really doing great things for our country.

Richard:  That’s fantastic.  There definitely, in my humble opinion, has been a lack of that kind of programming so, —

Emily:  I agree.

Richard:  Certainly, if there’s anything I can do to help you out, hopefully, you’ll let us know.

Emily:  Well, I appreciate it.

Richard:  Absolutely.

Emily:  We’re really excited about this.

Richard:  Absolutely.  Thank you very much for coming on the show today.

Emily:  Thanks so much for having me.

[Segue to music]

Richard:  Okay, so, now we’re going to talk a little bit about the armed citizen and the police officer.  When I talk about the armed citizen, I am talking about the legally armed citizen. We’re not talking about a criminal with a gun.  Completely different story and we address those in completely different ways.  But, sometimes, we don’t know if the legally-armed citizen is in fact legally-armed or if they are in fact the criminals.  So, that creates a problem for us in law enforcement because obviously we want to do our job safely.

We have our families that we want to go home to every night and sometimes, let’s face it, the wolves dress up a sheep or Sheepdogs.  So, one of the listeners and readers on the website, Jon, he sent me an e-mail and we’ve swapped a few emails back and forth. But he sent me one email with some questions.

And we’ll just kind of go through the questions here and I’ll try to answer his questions, but also try to, in the same way, offer some ideas to law enforcement on how to address some of these questions and some of these issues when we encounter them.

But the first thing Jon asked was; what is the collective opinion among law enforcement officers I work with regarding the legal carrying of a firearm?  Is it positive or negative?

Well generally, positive. Or at least with all the agencies I’ve worked with. I started law enforcement up in Georgia. Worked there for a number of years, and now work down here in Florida and both my agency in Georgia and my agency here in Florida.

The general, if not overwhelming opinion of law enforcement is very positive toward the legal lawful carrying of a firearm. And probably, the biggest reason why that is; is law enforcement officers see what happens when victims encounter the criminal element. They don’t have a way to defend themselves.

At the end of the day, this maybe kind of a crude way of explaining it, but law enforcement is nothing more than a report writer. And I know our job is a lot more than that. Our job really should be a lot more than that. But, unfortunately, we generally get there after the crime has already occurred.

We get there after the robbery’s taken place. We get there after the rape has taken place; or we get there to a murder scene. And a lot of times, we wind up merely detecting that crime has occurred and then investigating what happened; and then seeking out who did the evil act, right? And there’s nothing in there about preventing the act from starting.

And I understand it says serve and protect on the side of a lot of our police cars, but at the end of the day protecting isn’t something that we’re legally required to do and the Supreme Court said that time and time again, that law enforcement officers and law enforcement agencies have absolutely no duty to protect those people in their community. We have merely a legal obligation to provide for the general welfare of the public. Not to prevent anyone from being victimized.

So law enforcement officers generally have an opinion that citizens need to be able to defend themselves. And of course, there is a broad range of opinions that we have in law enforcement officers, just like we do in the general public. Some may be for or against open carry just like there’s many people and the second amendment community that are pro or against open carry, right?

Law enforcement officers ultimately are citizens just from your community, and they are a reflection of that community. So, if you have a community that is very negative towards firearms, then, chances are you’re going to have a lot of law enforcement officers that are negative towards firearms.  Being that I worked in Georgia and Florida, both of these states, generally speaking, are fairly pro-second amendment; so, most of the officers I worked with are pretty pro-second amendment.

Now, let’s see, Jon asked,

“Do you want individuals being stopped to voluntarily tell you they are carrying a firearm?”  And we are talking about traffic stops here.  We’re talking about just the routine.  If you allow me to use that word, the routine traffic stop, just the traffic enforcement type stop.

Generally speaking, I prefer to know; it just prevents a possible misunderstanding later.  If I stop someone and they go ahead and tell me about it; okay, we can address that issue and I know they’re being upfront with me and everything else.   As opposed to, they’ve got a gun in their pocket, they’ve got a gun on their waistband or in the glove box or whatever, and they start reaching into that area.

And now, the gun is exposed and our hand is moving towards that area. That creates a completely different situation.  It’s a situation where that misunderstanding could get somebody hurt or killed.

If the guy doesn’t want to tell me, he has no legal obligation to do so. In the state of Florida, you don’t have that legal obligation telling the officer.  In other states, you do. But, if you don’t have the legal obligation, I can understand you don’t want to tell me, fine.  But, it does help create an environment in which, a misunderstanding could result in harm or injury to someone.

Just like I said, if I ask a guy, “Okay, sir, may I ask for your driver’s license?” and he reaches back to grab his wallet, but as he’s reaching back, he exposes a firearm and his hand is going down toward that firearm, because he’s reaching for his wallet.  He hasn’t told me he is armed. All I know now is that he’s reaching toward an area where there is a firearm.  I’m going to handle that a lot differently than if he had said initially, “Sir, I’ve got a gun with me.  What would you like me to do?”  Because we can address that and I think most police officers would agree with me there.

Jon, then asked, “When you approach a vehicle, how do I want someone to convey the information to me that they, in fact are legally armed?”  Generally speaking, I prefer something along the lines of, “Good evening officer!  Hi”, whatever. I’ve got a concealed weapons permit and I do have that firearm with me. What would you like me to do?”

Kind of by leading off with, “I have concealed weapons permit.”  That’s kind of mental shorthand for “Hey I’m a good guy and I don’t pose a threat.”

I’ve seen circumstances where someone just announces I have a gun and that’s kind of get a little bit of a different reaction.  If I’m in some type of enforcement capacity, I’m investigating a crime or I’m investigating some type of traffic infraction or whatever, and someone just announces “I have a gun.” You may be thinking “Hey, I’m trying to do a right thing here.”

But that really, especially if we’ve not already established some rapport or something, it’s not going to — it’s not going to enhance our relationship in a positive way. Whereas if you lead off with “I have a concealed weapon’s permit and I happen to have that firearm with me”, you’re saying the same thing but it’s in how you say it.

We communicate not just with our words but also with how we say things and our body language and everything else.  And that’s sort of what you’re doing here also.  So, I recommend and I don’t know, maybe somebody will disagree with me but I would recommend just saying, “I got a permit.  I have that weapon with me.  What would you like me to do?”  And it’s kind of you’re saying the same thing but it’s in a lower key sort of way.  You’re less likely to get a negative reaction from that officer.

Jon then goes on to ask, “If you approach a car from the passenger side –“, which hopefully, everyone realizes I’m a huge advocate of and hopefully, you’re at least trying that out for yourself, but he says, “If you approach the car from the passenger side and see a firearm before the individual has had an opportunity to present his credentials, how do you respond?”

Well, that’s going to depend on the circumstances and what is the driver doing, that sort of thing.  Obviously, if I’m responding to some allegation of criminal activity, we’re going to handle that in a much higher level than if I’m just stopping somebody for an expired tag or something. Now, I realized any traffic stop can go bad very quickly, and we unfortunately have seen that many times.

But, if I already know there has been a crime or there has been an allegation of a crime, then I may even one step higher on my alertness level and now that I have stopped this guy in relation to some crime, I see that the he is armed, chances are you’re going to be pulled at a gun point at that point depending on what the allegations of the crime are.

On the other hand, if this is just a straight routine stop, I walk up there and say “The firearm is in a holster on your belt and you’ve got your hands on the steering wheel” and there’s no other indication of anything criminal. Then chances are, what I’m going to do is I’m just going to get on the radio, a buzz pause radio, “I’ve got a subject here that may be legally armed just go ahead and start me other unit” And then I’m going to try and make contact with, with the driver. Knock on the window or whatever the case may be and try to address the situation that way.

Assuming the driver doesn’t do anything silly; we’re probably going to be fine. We’re going to have a nice conversation. I’m going to handle the enforcement action. He’s going to be put on his way. If on the other hand, I knocked on the window and he makes a reach for his gun, then that’s obviously a situation in which he’s probably going to get shot. It’s just — it’s kind of hard to say what my reaction is going to be in every circumstance because it’s going to just depend on the situation and what is the driver doing and everything else.

If you’re sitting there, your hands are on the steering wheel and you have a firearm, maybe open carry is legal or it just happens to be exposed because of the way you’re sitting in the car or something like that.  I’m going to knock on your window and we’re going to have a pleasant conversation.

On the other hand, if I walk up there and you’ve got a gun that’s tucked under your leg, that’s going to be a little bit of a different situation because most people don’t ride around with a gun tucked under their leg ready for immediate action when the police pull them over. So that’s going to create a much higher level of concern for me and we’re going to address in that issue. And then, we’re going to address that issue.

Jon goes on to ask, “When the individual hands you his or her driver’s license along with their concealed weapons permit, do you automatically recognize they’re a good guy, or do you become more apprehensive knowing that they may possess a firearm?”

Well for me, I generally won’t recognize them as a good guy. But that doesn’t mean that I become lackadaisical. That means you still get run through NCIC, FCIC to make sure you’re not wanted.

You also, I’m going to check to make sure that you got a good driver’s license, you’re not suspended or anything else. I recognize a thing. CCW permit does mean that you’ve have  a background check but that doesn’t mean since that time you haven’t maybe have it revoked  or you haven’t taken on a drug habit, or whatever the case may be. Or maybe you just, or issued the permit incorrectly.

There are a lot of states that don’t even have a photo ID or a photo on the permit or anything else. So, if you are not driving, or maybe you tell me, “Sir, I don’t have my license with me. It is my car”, or whatever, I may not be able to immediately confirm that. So even you on the permit [??]. But generally, I’m going to recognize you as a good guy and I think most police officers lead the same way but that doesn’t mean you’re going to get better treatment or worst treatment because we’re not going to be lackadaisical.

And certainly, I would encourage any police officer out there that encounters someone with the CCW permit to recognize that this person has in fact been through a background check. They have in fact had finger prints taken and everything else. Most states require them to have some type of training before they are issued the permit.

So, generally speaking, you come across somebody with a concealed weapons permit. Generally speaking they are in fact a good guy and I’ve seen a variety of statistics that are out there that show that of all the subpopulations out there in the United States, the folks that have a CCW permit are folks that are less likely to commit crimes.

They’ve just a fraction of them will ever have their permit revoked and of those that have their permit revoked, for if you have them or actually of their crimes [??], sometimes it’s for non-payment of traffic fines or parking tickets or something like that. Sometimes, its clerical errors or they didn’t submit the right paper work for their reapplication. There’s a lot of stuff that’s out there. Yes, concealed weapons permit holders commit crimes but generally had a much more infrequent number than any other segment of population.

Jon asked, “If the individual is legally carrying, do you disarm them during the traffic stop?”

Again, that’s going to depend on the circumstances. Generally speaking I will not. But if there is a criminal allegation, then yes. Absolutely, I will. If someone has accused you of shoplifting and gave me your tag number and I spotted your car and I pull you over on traffic stop, then yes absolutely I’m going to disarm you because I’m there investigating a criminal allegation. And it would just be absolutely silly or stupid of me to allow someone I am investigating for a crime to stand there with a firearm.

On the other hand, if we’re talking about just the traffic stop; then generally, I’m probably not going to. But again, it depends on the circumstances. What is your demeanour? What is –? Are you acting in a way to cause me to fear that you may try to do something stupid? Or are you just — average guy maybe a little nervous because you’ve being stopped by the cops, that’s fine.

Where is the weapon in relation to the documents that I may need from you.  For example you say, “Sir, I’ve got a firearm in my glove box and that’s where I’ve got my insurance, my registration, and my driver’s license.”  You know what, I’m not going to let you just reach in there and grab that stuff out.  Okay, I’m going to need that information.  We’re going to have to work out something to where I can come over there and maybe remove the firearm from the glove box.

You can find the documents or if you don’t want me rifling through there, that’s fine but I’m not just going to let you do something that would be dangerous, not just to me; but then also something that will create danger for yourself because you’re reaching for a gun and, men, obviously that’s not going to have a good outcome for you either.  So, that just gets back to — It depends on the circumstances.

Yes, if I choose to disarm them, do you believe that further manipulation of firearms such as loading or unloading it is a greater danger than just leaving the firearm in the holster room [ph]? I’ve seen this talked about a little bit in a lot of the forums and Tom Gresham on his radio program.

He talks about these types of things.  At the end of the day, the safe manipulation of a firearm is in fact, safe. Right?  But the problem is as anytime you introduce additional manipulation of a firearm, you create a possibility of unsafe manipulation. And it maybe a situation or a police officer that’s unfamiliar with that type of gun, he’s not doing stupid with it.

For example, you’re a police officer and you carry a SIG Sauer P226. That is a double-action, single-action gun.  There’s no safety on or anything and you now have in your hand, say, a 1911 cocked and locked. And you freaked out because a hammer’s back and you can’t figure out how to take the safety off or rack the slide etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  Okay. And I get that.  But that goes back to, as police officers, we need to know what our limitations are.

If we have a firearm that’s in our possession that we have to secure or we have to clear it, place in an evidence, whatever we’re doing with but we have to unload it; and we don’t know how to manipulate that firearm, you need to just take that firearm and maybe stick it in your trunk or something until another officer can get there, whether it’s a sergeant or a firearms instructor or just somebody on your shift that knows a little bit about that gun can get there and handle it.

Okay, at some point, I responded with another officer to a shooting and we got there and wound up being a guy who had try to commit suicide and he actually had an older break top.  I think it was a 32 revolver.  Maybe it was a 38.  I don’t think it was a 38, I think it was a 32.  Anyway, it was an old break top revolver. And for those of you that aren’t familiar with it; instead of the cylinders swinging out to the side; the top or the gun, actually, kind of folds in half and it’s called a break top because the top of the revolver where the back strap is, actually is not one solid piece.  When you manipulate it, it actually opens up, exposing the cylinder of the revolver, kind of upward at an angle and you can load them and unload the firearm from that way.

When myself and another officer got there, and right behind us was our sergeant.  Our sergeant actually — we had to move the firearms, so we could safely, render aid to the person that has been shot.  So, the sergeant actually removed the firearm and he took it over to his car. And for whatever reason, he needed to unload it, whatever the case may be.  He didn’t know how to do that.  Knowing that I am a complete geek when it comes to firearms, he called me over, and I was able to show him how to do it; rather than him trying to do something that would have caused it to discharge or hurt somebody or anything else.

And I think we have to; as police officers have to recognize what our limits are.  If you don’t know a gun, that’s fine, right?  We can’t know everything.  But if you don’t know how to operate a particular firearm and you find that firearm in your possession, you need to call over somebody to help you that does know that firearm.

I don’t know every firearm in the world. I mean if you handed me like a crew-operated weapon, whether it’s a 249, or a Modus [ph] or something like that, you know what? I’m not going to be able to help you with that.  I know which way the pointy end goes, but other than that, I’m not going to be able to help you with that.  But on the other hand, if you bring me a Glock or a Revolver, or a Cig or a Smith, or pretty much any handgun, most rifles and shot guns, I’ll be able to help you out.

So, just get to know the folks on your shift; know that you can rely on in that.  If you don’t have somebody that knows what they’re doing, and you have to handle or you have unload a firearm, you with the sergeant, do that.

Back to Jon’s, I guess, main question here is, “Is it safer, even if you know what you’re doing, is it safer to manipulate that firearm further?”

Yes and no.  Again, it depends on the situation.  If it’s a circumstance in which I have to disarm someone, because they are — I’m investigating them for a crime or they’re acting in such a manner to place me in reasonable fear for my safety, I’m not going to leave them in possession of a firearm.  So, I’m going to have to secure that firearm.

And most holsters are not something that are easy to take on and off. You got a lot of belts slide holsters that you would have to take their belt off. You’ve got some inside the waistband, which again you’re going to have to sit there and kind of fool around and manipulate everything. A lot of times it may be easiest just to take the firearm out of the holster.

What do you do with it at that point? The very least, I’d just take it and lay it in my trunk somewhere, out of the way; and let me conduct my investigation. And when the investigation is over, then return the firearm or if it’s going an evidence or whatever the case might be.

If it’s, if I’ve stopped somebody and I’ve had to take their firearm for some reason; and they’re now leaving, chances are I’m still not going to feel real good about them having a loaded firearm. And if I’ve just had to take some type of criminal enforcement with this guy and maybe I’m not arresting him, maybe I’m just giving him a notice to appear or a summons to appear in court on a criminal charge, you know what? I don’t feel we’re comfortable with giving that guy a loaded gun back because he’s pissed off at me.

And me handing him a loaded firearm is not necessarily in my best interest as a survival instinct situation, okay? So, you know what? I may unload that firearm and stick it in his trunk or something else and then he can leave, I can leave and he can load back up and do whatever. BBB

On the other hand, if it’s just a regular routine stop, I may — If I do have to take a firearm from him for some reason, I may just put it in his glove box for him not even unload or anything just put it in his glove box for him. Tell him, “Look as soon as you get down the road, go ahead and holster back up. But, don’t manipulate the gun in front of me, we don’t want any misunderstandings.”

But most of the time on just a routine stop, they guy’s not suspected of any criminal activity. He’s not giving me any reason to fear for my safety because of his behavior or what he’s doing or anything. Chances are, “Partner just leave it in your holster.” You and I are going to stand here and have a conversation. You don’t do anything stupid, don’t cause me any reasons to get concerned and we’re going to have a nice time. And he’ll just hold on to it.

Let’s see, Jon asked, “Is it standard practice to run the serial number of a firearm even though the individual is licensed to handle or permitted?”

That really depends on department policy and state law. For example, gun registrations are illegal in most states; but some states actually have some type of firearm registration. So in the states with those registration laws, it may be standard procedure to do this. I maybe — a law that they have to do it. I just don’t know if there’s somebody from like Maryland or Massachusetts or New York that have these types of crazy registration laws. Maybe you can let me know if it’s a policy or a law, or anything like that.

Most states don’t have registrations. Most states, it’s actually illegal to have any kind of firearms registration. So generally speaking, it’s not going to be a standard procedure.

Except, if there’s some type of criminal activity suspected, if there is criminal activity suspected, then yes, as a matter of course, I’m going to check any property that they might have associated with that crime. I’m going to check the serial numbers and NCIC to make sure that they are not stolen.

For example, if I would just stop somebody and they were suspected of some type of theft and in the backseat they’ve got a stereo system, I’m going to run the serial numbers on the stereo system also. They’re suspected of being a thief and stereo system on the backseat is something that’s a little abnormal; so, of course I’m going to check it. Same thing with the firearm; if you’ve been accused of some type of crime, chances are I’m going to.

And from the other hand, it’s just a traffic stop and you’ve told me that you’ve got a gun and I’m leaving.  I’m letting you leaving on a glove box and your holster or whatever else, and no, I’m not going to check it. But that’s going to depend on the state; the department policy and everything else.

And last but not the least, Jon asked, “How do you handle the stop that the individual has no criminal history. He has a loaded firearm in the glove box for personal protection. Is it an automatic arrest? Is that individual charged with a felony? If there are additional occupants in the vehicle, are all occupants arrested?” And this goes back to state law.

In the state of Florida, It is perfectly legal for an individual to have a loaded firearm in their glove box. And the glove box does not have to be locked. So, in this state, what you’re doing is perfectly legal.

If you go to another state, and I don’t know what all the states are, But I suspect, some of the same ones I just mentioned, Illinois, Maryland, and New York. In these states, it may be illegal, it may be a misdemeanour, and it may be a felony, who knows?

Okay, if in — if you’re a law enforcement officer in one of the states, feel free to go to the comment section of today’s show and list what’s going on in your state. But in a lot of states, it’s not illegal to have a firearm, a loaded firearm in your glove box or in your vehicle. But, in the caveat is, as I’m not an attorney and I don’t necessarily live where you live, so I’m not giving legal advice on what to do or what to carry or how to carry it or anything. But it’s going to depend on the state. It’s going to depend on your jurisdiction.

And I guess, kind of the underlying question maybe with that is if you have somebody who has no criminal history, but they have some type of firearms offense now that you’ve countered them. Do you automatically arrest them? Do you automatically load them up with a felony if that’s a charge or for whatever they’ve done that type of thing?

And it’s just like anything else. It’s going to depend on the circumstances. Officers always have discretion. And if it is a case where somebody genuinely has made a mistake, and they have no prior convictions; a lot of times officers are going to go out of their way to help that person out. Because for the most part, we have a pretty good idea of who the good guys are and who the bad guys are.

And if it really seems like you’ve made a mistake and you don’t have any criminal record, there’s a lot of cops that are going to bend over backwards to help you out. I mean, there really are. On the other hand, you know, some places, it’s a major felony.

So, it’s a matter of know your laws, comply with the laws as best as you can and you know, politeness goes along the way also. So, being friendly toward the officer will not guarantee that you won’t be charged with a crime, if in fact you violate a law, but being rude definitely aint going to help you any.

Alright so, I hope, Jon, that helps you a little bit. Maybe it answers a few of those questions for you. For some of my other listeners out there that are armed citizens, if you’ve got any more questions, I’ll be more than happy to try to address those and answer those for you as best I can.

A lot of states have some pretty good references for different firearms laws and you may want to check online for some of those. I’ll actually post up a couple of links to some different sites. I know they’re here in the state of Florida there’s an attorney over in Orlando that puts out a very good book on Florida firearms laws. I’ll put a link up to his and definitely you want to know what the law is. That way, you don’t create yourself any problems unintentionally.

To all of my law enforcement listeners out there, I strongly encourage you to also read up on the laws because there are a lot of things that you are not taught in the Police Academy and there are a lot of misconceptions and wrong beliefs that you may have.

Not through any a will on your own but just because your sergeant didn’t know and he told you something that he had always heard or the instructor of the academy told you something wrong.

Definitely, before you take some type of action on somebody, make sure you know what are the actual legal requirements in the laws are.  I’ve seen, even in my own department, I’ve seen officers say something that they thought was right, which just plain isn’t.  You got to pull out the code book and look at it and actually understand what you’re looking at.

Also, to all my brothers and sisters that are in police work, keep in mind that armed citizens really are good guys. And well, maybe no one deserves any special treatment, certainly, they deserve fair treatment.

So, these were pretty much wrapped up episode 21 of the Blue Sheepdog Podcast.  Again, if you’ve got any question, comments or concern, shoot me an e-mail, richard@bluesheepdog.com.  Make sure you hit our website, bluesheepdog.com and if you have a chance, how about leaving me a review over on iTunes.  Thanks and stay safe.

[Extro music]

—End of transcript—

 

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Richard

Publisher at BlueSheepdog
Richard Johnson is a gun writer, police trainer and really bad joke teller. Check out his other writing on sites like Human Events, The Firearm Blog and Police & Security News.

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