(RI) State: No cause to charge Portsmouth officers who took guns


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Drizzt
October 8, 2005, 02:37 AM
State: No cause to charge Portsmouth officers who took guns

PORTSMOUTH The state Attorney General's office has found insufficient evidence to charge any of the three Portsmouth police officers who admitted taking evidence room guns that had been slated for destruction.

In a ruling released Friday, Attorney General Patrick Lynch's office cited "extraordinarily sloppy evidence handling," in the case in which five guns were removed from a shipment of guns that were headed to a Massachusetts foundry to be melted down last March.

"To declare the misconduct in this case as not criminal is not to endorse, or even tolerate, the actions of the officers," the Attorney General's summary stated.

The three officers, Sgt. Harry Leonard, a 24-year member of the force, Detective Steven Hoetzel, on the force for seven years, and Patrolman John Huppee, a 10-year veteran, each received a one-month suspension without pay. Police Chief Dennis Seale said that that the loss of several thousand dollars in income, along with the blemish on their permanent record and public "humiliation" amounted to stiff internal sanctions. All three have served their suspensions and are back at work at the same ranks as before.

While he did not believe the circumstances warranted larceny charges against the three, "None of this makes me proud. It is a black mark and a sad day for this department," the chief said. But, he added, "It is time to move on."

When the case came to light last March, the chief took heat for his decision not to charge the officers.

"I can understand why some in the community feel as they do," Chief Seale said. "As I said at the time, this was the poorest decision of their careers ... They screwed up." But the chief added that he did not feel, nor now does the Attorney General, that criminal charges are called for.

Larceny, the chief said, is the taking of property belonging to another with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property.

In this case, he said the officers took guns that they believed were slated to be destroyed. He also pointed to the fact that they voluntarily turned themselves in and possessed impeccable service records.

The Attorney General agreed.

"In order to support a criminal charge in this instance, each crime considered includes, as an element, the necessity to prove the officer acted with the criminal intent to deprive another of their property. Because the officers involved believed the firearms taken were scheduled for imminent destruction, there was insufficient evidence to prove that element."

Guns were to be destroyed

The case might never have come to light had it not been for the circumstances surrounding one of the missing five guns.

That weapon, an Armsport 12-gauge shotgun, had been seized from a drunk driver. When it was later determined that the man was a hunter and that there was no reason to keep his gun, he was told he could retrieve it.

Except that by then it was nowhere to be found.

Believing the gun must inadvertently have been destroyed with the nearly 100 others that had just been "purged" from the evidence room some dating back 20 years, the chief was about to tell the gun owner that the gun had been destroyed.

But before he could do so, the chief said that Det. Hoetzel came in and admitted that he had seen the gun among the others about to be driven off to the foundry and had asked for permission to take it.

During the subsequent investigation, led by Deputy Chief Lance Hebert, the three officers came forward and revealed that a total of five guns had been taken from boxes of guns that were about to be shipped off for melting. The guns were in open boxes inside the still-open trunk of a patrol car when they were taken.

In addition to the shotgun, these included:

* An M-1 rifle that had been owned by the late Portsmouth detective Alex Laferte. Chief Seale said that after Mr. Laferte's death, that gun was turned in by his father who thought that an officer or the department might want it. He was informed that any guns turned in must be destroyed. But Chief Seale said that Officer Huppee, a gun expert, saw the gun among the others in the boxes, recognized it as having belonged to his late friend, and asked to keep it.

* A .22 caliber rifle of little value, taken by Sgt. Leonard who said he needed a gun to deal with coyotes around his property.

* Two other guns taken by Officer Hoetzel.

Chief Seale said he called in State Police and the Middletown chief to conduct an evidence room audit. That analysis revealed that two other guns were unaccounted for both seized during a drug raid in Portsmouth. State Police eventually concluded that the two were apparently melted down with the others in that shipment to the LeBaron Foundry in Brockton.

Steps taken

Assistant Attorney General Cindy Soccio conducted the probe for the Attorney General's Office.

The report calls on Portsmouth Police to review and modify evidence handling procedures, particularly with regard to the destruction of firearms. It is understood, the report sates, "that these tasks have been accomplished."

Chief Seale said he took several steps early on, among them:

* Only two detectives, with one emergency backup, now have access to the evidence room. Previously, five people had access.

* Procedures for logging in and disposing of guns (and all evidence) have been tightened.

* The evidence room is monitored by an always-on surveillance camera.

_________________________________________________________

Gun disposal

Policies in place (and since beefed up) at the Portsmouth Police Department are supposed to prevent the sort of disappearances that were revealed last March.

* The vast majority of guns in evidence room storage are turned in by residents who don't want them in the house for various reasons. Only a handful are actual crime evidence. When people turn them in, they are supposed to be told that the guns will (without exception) be destroyed. Guns may not be used by the department or individuals.

* All guns (and other evidence) are logged into the computer upon receipt and upon destruction.

* Guns are taken to a Massachusetts foundry to be melted down. Two officers must be present on such trips.

* Only two detectives (and one other for emergencies) have access to evidence room (new rule).

* 24-hour surveillance camera coverage of evidence room.

_________________________________________________________

Off the deep end

This is not the first, nor the most unusual episode of gun disposal gone wrong by the Portsmouth Police Department. About 25 years ago, a motorist driving across the Mt. Hope Bridge was startled to see an unmarked vehicle stop at center span. The driver got out, went to the rail and began tossing guns over the side. Thinking this looked mighty fishy, the motorist called Bristol Police. After some checking, Bristol Police reported that the gun dumping was done by Portsmouth Police. Portsmouth Police later admitted that they were disposing of guns from their evidence room. This happened long before he was chief, Chief Seale said, and was apparently fairly standard procedure back then. "Obviously it's not a great idea."

http://www.eastbayri.com/story/323786885973265.php

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Standing Wolf
October 8, 2005, 09:22 PM
While he did not believe the circumstances warranted larceny charges against the three, "None of this makes me proud. It is a black mark and a sad day for this department," the chief said. But, he added, "It is time to move on."

Well, yeah, but we're not a police state. After all, the cops didn't get to keep their stolen guns, did they?

CentralTexas
October 9, 2005, 09:47 AM
-so what happens on the day the send all the confiscated marijuana to the incinerator??? :what:
CT

Don Gwinn
October 9, 2005, 10:05 AM
The case might never have come to light had it not been for the circumstances surrounding one of the missing five guns.

That weapon, an Armsport 12-gauge shotgun, had been seized from a drunk driver. When it was later determined that the man was a hunter and that there was no reason to keep his gun, he was told he could retrieve it.

I'm really hoping this was the result of a reporter who didn't understand what he was told, and does not represent reality. But who knows?


And Standing Wolf, let's not scold the authorities too strongly on this one. I think they're right; this wasn't larceny. It was simply a case of these men taking things that didn't belong to them for their own private ends.

Wait, what does larceny mean again?

garyk/nm
October 9, 2005, 10:08 AM
So it is OK to take guns slated for destruction? Cool! I'm in!
Oh, wait...I'm not a cop.

:cuss:

Sleeping Dog
October 9, 2005, 11:18 AM
so what happens on the day the send all the confiscated marijuana to the incinerator???
Coincidentally, on that same day, area doughnut shops report record numbers of officers scarfing down extra doughnuts.

Pilgrim
October 9, 2005, 05:47 PM
In a ruling released Friday, Attorney General Patrick Lynch's office cited "extraordinarily sloppy evidence handling," in the case in which five guns were removed from a shipment of guns that were headed to a Massachusetts foundry to be melted down last March.
Obviously, the evidence handling procedures were designed for honest men, not thieving police officers.

Pilgrim

another okie
October 9, 2005, 05:55 PM
It was still larceny - they're just saying we don't want to charge the officers. The officers deprived the owner of the guns, the state, of possession of the guns between the time the guns were taken and the time they would have been destroyed. That's enough. If someone (not a police officer) had broken into the police department and stolen guns that were to be destroyed the next day, they would been charged.

Desertdog
October 9, 2005, 07:50 PM
What I have never understood is; why do police departments complain about the crooks being better armed than them, and then destructing ALL firearms that they get? Why not keep the above average, or higher powered, for departmental use?

An M-1 rifle that had been owned by the late Portsmouth detective Alex Laferte. Chief Seale said that after Mr. Laferte's death, that gun was turned in by his father who thought that an officer or the department might want it. He was informed that any guns turned in must be destroyed.
Admitted I don't know how a M-1 would stack up against an AK-47 but I think it would be better than a .38 Police Special, and maybe even better than a .44 Magnum.

Ky Larry
October 9, 2005, 10:37 PM
Here in my town, the cops steal weapons out of vehicles after traffic accidents and DUI arrests. :rolleyes:

Pilgrim
October 10, 2005, 05:48 PM
What I have never understood is; why do police departments complain about the crooks being better armed than them, and then destructing ALL firearms that they get? Why not keep the above average, or higher powered, for departmental use?
It depends on the state and the manner the police came into possession of the weapon as to how it is disposed and if it can be taken for police use.

In the PDRK, judges have the option of declaring a weapon a public nuisance and ordering it destroyed. This is most often the case when the weapon's owner is convicted of a weapons offense and it can't be returned to the owner. For the police to keep the weapon for police use, the chief or Sheriff has to petition the court to not destroy the weapon and let the police keep it.

My Sheriff in the PDRK made the politically correct decision to destroy weapons in the evidence locker rather than sell them to FFL holders for much needed funds and ammunition. One of the department's armorers came across the evidence technician happily listing for destruction three Smith & Wesson 5906s which had been confiscated from crooks, the exact same weapons the department's deputies carried on patrol. Said armorer saved those three 5906s from destruction and placed them in the weapons room for issue to deputy sheriffs.

Lest THR members think the Sheriff destroyed any weapon that came into his possession, every possible effort was made to return stolen weapons to their lawful owners provided said owners were not otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms.

Pilgrim

bamawrx
October 11, 2005, 01:15 AM
I have attended gun confiscation sales here in my state. They are from large cities that sell the group by bid to ffl's. I find some old s&w's and other odds and ends like 870's. I admit that most of the guns are total crap, but more than a few jewels were found there. I'd rather they end back up in circulation with us gun guys instead of melted down. I don't blame the officers from pulling the guns out, and don't think for a second I wouldn't do the same thing if given permission.

If you saw an M1 going off to be destroyed you wouldn't ask for it?

Crosshair
October 11, 2005, 01:37 AM
CentralTexas

so what happens on the day the send all the confiscated marijuana to the incinerator???

You're new to this planet, arn't you. :neener:

justashooter
October 11, 2005, 10:15 AM
sounds like theft to me.

the blue line is getting tighter.

if i stole a gun from an evidence room, would they charge me?

Baba Louie
October 11, 2005, 10:27 AM
if i stole a gun from an evidence room, would they charge me? I gather that if said gun was slated for destruction... precedence has sorta been set... now hasn't it? :rolleyes: I think the key here is asking permission to take said firearm slated for destruction, take a months pay cut (better pick out the really nice guns) once the fact is leaked out, be publicly humiliated... then go back to work as a professional crime stopper.

Move along, there's nothing to see here. That's not the droid we're looking for.

TheEgg
October 11, 2005, 11:33 AM
As I said at the time, this was the poorest decision of their careers ... They screwed up.

So did you, you little :cuss: .

Rampant corruption (and I include the chief and the DA), unfettered abuse of office. Etc. Etc. Etc.

44Special
October 19, 2005, 02:53 AM
It was still larceny - they're just saying we don't want to charge the officers. The officers deprived the owner of the guns, the state, of possession of the guns between the time the guns were taken and the time they would have been destroyed. That's enough. If someone (not a police officer) had broken into the police department and stolen guns that were to be destroyed the next day, they would been charged.


There was a parallel case some years ago about some civilians stealing obsolete munitions that had been placed in obsolete tanks, trucks, etc. on the Nellis AFB Bombing & Gunnery Range to make them blow up when straffed. My recollection is the feds initially threw the book at these guys but in the end let them off more lightly because the stealing of stuff the feds were really just blowing up as a way to get rid of it was not the same as stealing real munitions that the U.S. military was really going to use.
So maybe it wasn't so bad giving a similar break to the officers. They didn't get a full pass.

Joejojoba111
October 19, 2005, 05:29 AM
That's an interesting premise, but I'm pretty sure that my mom told me two wrongs don't make a right.

And there's also a precedent that the gov't can steal your house if a business will pay more taxes than your. But I think that's wrong too.

Honestly, just because they get away with it doesn't make it right!


I got to say, though, that I hope this stuff starts to get through, and people start to realize that the HAVE to re-constrain our police forces, we need to clean house, send them to jails and unemployment lines, and re-clarify the role of police, and describe clearly what they ARE allowed to do, not specify the few things that they can't do.

But what's the point, think about it, they ARE criminals. And they have power over you of life and death. Pleasant dreams.

DRZinn
October 19, 2005, 08:32 PM
I gotta say I'm with the cops on this one.

The guns shortly would not exist. It's like taking something out of a dumpster. (Yes, I know that that's also been held to be a crime, but that doesn't mean there's anything morally wrong with it.)

Highland Ranger
October 19, 2005, 08:54 PM
I want to be one of the super citizens . . . . . free doughnuts AND guns.

Way cool.

Powderman
October 19, 2005, 09:02 PM
I gotta say I'm with the cops on this one.

The guns shortly would not exist. It's like taking something out of a dumpster. (Yes, I know that that's also been held to be a crime, but that doesn't mean there's anything morally wrong with it.)

Sorry (and no flame intended) but that dog don't hunt, friend.

There IS something morally wrong with what they did. They took property which was not theirs, and which they had no permission to have, and converted it to personal use. That's called theft. Since they are police officers, that's also malfeasance.

They should be fired on the spot. As soon as their badges are taken, and their weapons turned in, they need to get the Miranda admonishment, and be arrested for Theft and Criminal Malfeasance. Moreover, a charge of Conspiracy would be in order, since they evidently worked together to break the law.

They should be tried--and since they confessed, sentenced to lengthly terms in jail.

The public should be invited to a town meeting in their jurisdiction, where their badges would be publicly melted, and their badge numbers stricken from the rolls.

Sorry, but a dirty cop is a dirty cop--worse than a non-LEO, because they violated a public trust and broke the oath that they swore. They're done, in my book. Punks. :fire: :mad:

DRZinn
October 19, 2005, 09:37 PM
To me, something is wrong only if someone's rights are violated.

Thus, since the guns would only be destroyed, they were trash.

No-one lost anythng.

Desertdog
October 19, 2005, 09:42 PM
With the federal government, the penalty CAN be be just as harsh for taking something out of a government dump, dumpster or trash can as it is taking it off a storeroom shelf.

Speaking from 30m years fed employment.

DRZinn
October 19, 2005, 10:07 PM
the penalty CAN be be just as harsh for taking something out of a government dump, dumpster or trash can as it is taking it off a storeroom shelf.I know; I'm not debating the legality, but the morality.

Joejojoba111
October 19, 2005, 10:26 PM
"To me, something is wrong only if someone's rights are violated.

Thus, since the guns would only be destroyed, they were trash.

No-one lost anythng."


I think some-one lost something. A lot of things. For one thing a lot of people lost guns. Maybe their guns weren't confiscated, maybe they were bought-back. In that case they were sold for the end-purpose of being destroyed.

Also, we lost a bit of our equality, because they are, LITERALLY, above the law, and everyone else beneath them - err it...

DRZinn
October 19, 2005, 10:30 PM
For one thing a lot of people lost guns.Try to follow along, Joe. No-one lost anything as a result of the officers having taken the guns, which were already in the possession of the police department and were about to be destroyed.

TheEgg
October 20, 2005, 10:29 AM
They were legally the property of the Police DEPARTMENT/city/municipality, not the employees of said department. Thus, the officers were certainly guilty of theft.

I you like thieves, I guess you can give them a pass.

DRZinn
October 21, 2005, 01:20 AM
No victim, no crime.

Show me a victim.

twency
October 21, 2005, 02:22 AM
There are various local ordinances which prohibit trash-picking for various reasons, such as health and safety, but the broad legal principle as held by the SCOTUS in California v. Greenwood http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=search&court=US&case=/data/us/486/35.html is that trash placed in a publicly accessible location with no reasonable expectation of privacy (i.e. outside the "curtilage of a home") is free for anyone's perusal, and it would seem, taking.

Obviously the facts in the situation being discussed in this thread are not identical to those in Greenwood. Greenwood was about fourth amendment searches, and the "reasonable expectation of privacy" in one's trash, not precisely about the property rights to one's trash. Also, here in the gun-liberation case, the officers had special access to items which were not in a publicly-accessible location.

But the key is that once the items were headed for disposal, they were no longer the same type of property as they would be if simply locked-up in the evidence room. Greenwood implies that homeowners effectively forfeit their property rights to garbage placed for disposal, by discussing without condemnation the taking of trash by others. eg. "It is common knowledge that plastic garbage bags left on or at the side of a public street are readily accessible to animals, children, scavengers, snoops, and other members of the public. Moreover, respondents placed their refuse at the curb for the express purpose of conveying it to a third party, the trash collector, who might himself have sorted through respondents' trash or permitted others, such as the police, to do so." [footnotes and citation omitted]

The officers were disobedient to their employer, but they didn't take another person's or organization's property in the same sense as simply walking off with the office stapler. Hence the difficulty, perhaps impossibility, of demonstrating "larceny" on the part of the officers. Personally, I have trouble blaming them under the circumstances, but I must admit they did wrong by their employer. Even so, it wasn't larceny, just plain disobedience.

Incidentally, if you have any interest in the fourth amendment (and who on this second amendment-oriented board doesn't) Greenwood is excellent reading, as it also references some other key cases on the subject of the "reasonable expectation of privacy." Not many people realize that there's no reasonable expectation of privacy inside a home under a skylight, for instance, but that's the unstated implication of California v. Ciraolo. Food for thought.

-twency

By the way, I agree that this was a victimless "crime", but that doesn't necessarily make it right.

DRZinn
October 21, 2005, 02:50 AM
It's not entirely right, since they violated department policy and/or procedure. The punishment they got seems about right to me.

TheEgg
October 21, 2005, 11:12 AM
Ah, but you forget the facts of the case. Remember this?

That weapon, an Armsport 12-gauge shotgun, had been seized from a drunk driver. When it was later determined that the man was a hunter and that there was no reason to keep his gun, he was told he could retrieve it.


Then it turned out that it was not were it was supposed to be. One of the cops had stolen it. The hunter is the victim in this case.

Thought experiment -- if this is no big deal, why did the officers just not walk up to the cheif and say "Hey, you know those guns that are scheduled for destruction? I like the looks of a couple of them, I am going to take them."

We know why: "None of this makes me proud. It is a black mark and a sad day for this department," the chief said. But, he added, "It is time to move on."(I hate this phrase!)

Since this did not happen, and the cops took them on the sly, you and I both know that the COPS involved knew it was wrong. But being cops, they got away without criminal charges.

Another thought experiment for you: if in the process of moving these weapons around they were stored in a box that said "to be destroyed" -- the box was to be moved from one building to another, and was accidently left for a few minutes on the sidewalk -- I, walking by, saw the box, read the sign and decided to take several of the guns for myself -- then, later I was found to have the guns.

Do you think that the attorney general would give me a pass when I explained that "Well I could see that they were to be destroyed, so no harm no foul, right?"

I don't think so, do you? I am absolutely convinced that I would have been criminally prosecuted for theft (most likely a felony charge.) They would have stated that I had stolen city property. And they would have been RIGHT!

I think everything in the article, the comments of the Chief, the comments of the AG, everything, makes very clear that this conduct was not acceptable - and in my opinion the only reason that criminal charges were not brought was because the Blue Wall protected these men.

Highland Ranger
October 21, 2005, 11:12 AM
Show me a victim.

Victim is the state. They had legal (?) ownership of the guns to do with as they saw fit (in this case destroy).

Come on guys; we have some rabid anti-cop members and some rabid pro-cop members.

Many of us fall somewhere in between - happy there are people who will do such a dirty job for so little compensation but unhappy that the liberal left wants these people to have some super-citizen status which diminishes us all.

BUT, call it straight. Nice that the guy owned up to it, but taking something that's not yours is stealing. Everyone's Momma taught them that . . . .

The lesson? I guess cops are above the law.

Someone call Steven Segal.

Art Eatman
October 21, 2005, 12:49 PM
It seems to me that the fundamental immorality of this whole deal is the law itself. Why should ANY legal item of value be subject to destruction merely because of who possesses it?

Those who passed the pertinent law(s) operated on the basis of foolish emotions, aside from any inherent problems with economics, taxation, and police department budgets. They failed to have any rational answer that is basic to all law: "What public interest is served?"

Art

Cellar Dweller
October 21, 2005, 01:19 PM
To me, something is wrong only if someone's rights are violated.

Thus, since the guns would only be destroyed, they were trash.

No-one lost anythng.

By that logic, it is not a crime for the foundry or its employees to keep items of value instead of disposing of them (and I need to get a job at LeBaron, new toys for FREE, woohoo!!!).

twency
October 21, 2005, 01:46 PM
By that logic, it is not a crime for the foundry or its employees to keep items of value instead of disposing of them
I'm not sure it would be a crime. Perhaps just a contract violation. Keep in mind that the Supreme Court of the United States has recognized the existence of the hypothetical "trash collector, who might himself have sorted through respondents' trash or permitted others, such as the police, to do so." (See California v. Greenwood, quoted in my previous message in this thread.) There is no implied condemnation here. Sure, that doesn't make it law, it's just dicta, but it reinforces the idea that if something is conveyed to another person for disposal, and the recipient disposes of it in an unexpected manner, that's not necessarily a crime in and of itself. Maybe it's a contract violation, since the items were not disposed of as specified in a contract. Possibly fraud, because the foundry represented it was doing (a), and actually did (b), but took money as if it had done (a). However, if the employee does it without knowledge of his employer, maybe not even fraud applies. It's definitely not a foregone conclusion that a crime has occurred.

As for this: Ah, but you forget the facts of the case
...
The hunter is the victim in this case.

The hunter was wronged, to be sure, but not by the officers who saved the items from destruction. In fact, it was the unintended effect of the action by the officer of saving the gun, which made it possible for the hunter to be made whole. (As well as the intended effect of his admission that the gun remained under his control.) If the officer hadn't rescued the shotgun from destruction, and later admitted that fact when the chief believed otherwise, the police department would have been unable to return it. It's not the officer's fault it was improperly scheduled for destruction. I don't think either DocZinn or I are the ones forgetting the facts of the case.

Believing the gun must inadvertently have been destroyed with the nearly 100 others that had just been "purged" from the evidence room — some dating back 20 years, the chief was about to tell the gun owner that the gun had been destroyed.
_________________
-twency

twency
October 21, 2005, 02:09 PM
Another thought experiment for you: if in the process of moving these weapons around they were stored in a box that said "to be destroyed" -- the box was to be moved from one building to another, and was accidently left for a few minutes on the sidewalk -- I, walking by, saw the box, read the sign and decided to take several of the guns for myself -- then, later I was found to have the guns.

Do you think that the attorney general would give me a pass when I explained that "Well I could see that they were to be destroyed, so no harm no foul, right?"

I don't think so, do you? I am absolutely convinced that I would have been criminally prosecuted for theft (most likely a felony charge.) They would have stated that I had stolen city property. And they would have been RIGHT!

I think everything in the article, the comments of the Chief, the comments of the AG, everything, makes very clear that this conduct was not acceptable - and in my opinion the only reason that criminal charges were not brought was because the Blue Wall protected these men.
Read the Supreme Court case I referenced above. It's quite possible you would be well within your rights to walk off with those items, if you were not otherwise prohibited from possessing them (say, because of laws banning "evil" features, or the like).

In the instance you described, I think a reasonable person might assume that a box of items marked "to be destroyed," placed unattended on the sidewalk, might very well be intended for disposal. Clearly it's been placed in a public area without any attempt to protect it from, as the Supreme Court might say, "animals, children, scavengers, snoops, and other members of the public." Now, it's less common (at least in my neighborhood) for boxes of guns to be left by the curb than for bags of trash to be left by the curb, but people do leave stuff out in our neighborhood with signs that say things like "Free to a good home" and "Free - works good." Even without the sign, people just leave stuff out by the curb to see if anyone will pick it up. Sometimes this is associated with a neighborhood bulk-item trash pickup, but it also happens at other times.

The flaw that I see with my argument, and I admit it's significant, is that guns, being considered to be a special class of evil item, aren't generally given away in this manner. But I'm not sure why that couldn't be, given that I've seen old, beat-up, but supposedly working circular saws being offered for unrestricted, unsupervised taking. Potentially as dangerous, or more so, than a 40-year-old rusted .410 shotgun.

For what it's worth, I don't think the officers were right to do what they did, but it bugs me when people conflate "That's not right" with "That's illegal." I don't think certain acts are right, but they are legal. I won't offer specifics, lest I lead this thread down an unrelated and unprofitable tangent.
___________________
-twency

secamp32
October 21, 2005, 02:12 PM
and we throw old computer in the trash. Once its in the trash I could care less what happens to it. If an employee wants one they are welcome to it. Do you think that if something valuable is put in the trash the trash collectors aren't going to take it home? So whats the difference. Garbage is garbage.

FYI I think the guns should have been auctioned off to the public rather than trashed.

TheEgg
October 21, 2005, 03:11 PM
twency, I agree that I might be able to "beat the rap" using the legal reasoning that you state(sounds good, anyway). However, I still believe that I would be prosecuted under the circumstance I outlined. And that the cops are not being prosecuted because they are cops, not because of a careful look at the law by the AG, other than as a way to find and excuse to not do something they didn't want to in the first place.

But of course this is just my opinion, I can't read the AG's mind, but it sure smells bad to me.

DRZinn
October 21, 2005, 03:45 PM
The hunter is the victim in this case.The hunter was the victim when the wepaon was confiscated. If the cops had npot taken it, it would have been destroyed. The hunter lost nothing by them taking the weapons.

Do you think that the attorney general would give me a pass when I explained that "Well I could see that they were to be destroyed, so no harm no foul, right?"As always, I'm not arguing the law, I'm arguing what is or is not right. Telling me I would be prosecuted for taking guns in a box on the street is like telling me I would prosecuted for carrying concealed in DC: that wouldn't mean I was wrong.

By that logic, it is not a crime for the foundry or its employees to keep items of value instead of disposing of them Why should it be a crime? Firing offense, sure. Prosecutable in civil court, perhaps, depending on the employment contract. But show me a victim.

TheEgg
October 22, 2005, 08:30 PM
The hunter was the victim when the wepaon was confiscated. If the cops had npot taken it, it would have been destroyed. The hunter lost nothing by them taking the weapons.

Sophistry of the worst sort. You can do better (and have, in this thread!).

The (temporary) confiscation of the weapon was legal and proper, as the hunter was drunk. But, no other reason was found to keep the weapon further, thus it was to be returned to him. It could not be, but only because some sticky fingered cops lifted it. Playing in your yard, legal or not, that was certainly not 'right'. And the article said nothing about the weapon being 'saved' because the cops took it - you invented that - the final disposition of that particular weapon had not been determined. If it HAD been destroyed, that destruction would have been premature and an error.

DRZinn
October 22, 2005, 11:10 PM
legal or not, that was certainly not 'right'.We have two options here:

A: The cops leave the weapons alone and they are destroyed. The hunter's weapon, taken from him, is also destroyed. He loses his rifle.

B: The cops take some of the weapons, and the rest are destroyed. The hunter's rifle, taken from him, is in the hands of the cop. He loses his rifle.

The end result is THE SAME either way. And the hunter has his rifle back, which he might not have if the cops had not taken it.

It could not be, but only because some sticky fingered cops lifted it.It could not be, because it had been sent to the foundry, not because of the officers.

It is not clear from the original story if the rifle in question would already have been destroyed or not when the owner showed up to retrieve it, but if it would have been, then the officers' having taken it actually saved it for him. If not, then he still did not lose anything, since they volunteered the fact that they had taken some rifles.

In fgact, had they kept quiet they could probably have kept the rifle, and the man would be told that it had been destroyed. The fact that they did not do this illustrates their integrity.

No victim. Hence, no crime.

the article said nothing about the weapon being 'saved' because the cops took it - you invented that -No, I didn't. In the original context of a bunch of weapons which would shortly be destroyed, the cops were saving weapons from being melted down. Once it was determined that that rifle in particular should be returned to its owner, the context changed. But it is still possible that the rifle would have already been destroyed had the cops not taken it.

Show me a victim.

Powderman
October 22, 2005, 11:34 PM
it's NOT a victim issue, and not REALLY a property issue..

It's an integrity issue!

You cannot steal and be a cop. You cannot lie and be a cop. You can not conceal and be a cop.

If you do those things, then you WILL be caught. And when you do, the first people to hang you out to dry will be other cops.

For all of this who are stuck on the "rightness" of this, consider:

If a guy will take stuff that does not belong to him, he'll do other stuff too.

Like lie his way out of a tough spot on a witness stand.
Like lie on a traffic citation to cover an illegal stop.
Like lie on an arrest report to cover an illegal seizure or improper search.

And, since it's OK to take a gun--what the heck, they were going to be melted--where is the line drawn?

Let's take unclaimed property, too.

How about bicycles? Perhaps that garden hose that was recovered might be just the ticket.

And, how about all of that UNCLAIMED CASH, just sitting around from that last arrest of a drug dealer? Hey--he's sure not going to get it back.

Get a clue, folks. Some of you are THE SAME ONES who crucify cops here, verbally, when they don't fit into your idea of what is right with the world.

And now, you sit there and advocate--AND ENCOURAGE--the commission of a crime; the theft of firearms, which in this case signifies the complete and utter lack of integrity of the officers involved!

Get a grip, people! YOU DON'T NEED THIEVES IN UNIFORM!!!

Highland Ranger
October 23, 2005, 12:00 AM
Can't believe this is still going on and can't believe that there are people defending what these cops did.

Let me put another spin on it. Here in the PRNJ it takes at least an hour to buy a gun with all the paperwork you have to fill out.

What paperwork did these guys fill out?

Again, no one is above the law and our LEO's should be held to an even higher standard of integrity.

These guys should have been fired at the very least and prosecuted would have been nice.

DRZinn
October 23, 2005, 03:19 AM
If a guy will take stuff that does not belong to him, he'll do other stuff too.I don't care what else "a guy will do." An act is wrong or it isn't, and what it does or does not prove about one's character does not in any way effect the rightness or wrongness of the action.

How about bicycles? Perhaps that garden hose that was recovered might be just the ticket.

And, how about all of that UNCLAIMED CASH, just sitting around from that last arrest of a drug dealer? Hey--he's sure not going to get it back.Nice straw man. The weapons were not merely unclaimed, they were on their way to be destroyed. A bicycle will be sold or donated. If guns were donated to poor inner-city residents we wouldn't be arguing about this. By the same token, if the cash were shortly to be destroyed, I'd be saying the same things I am about the guns.

Show me a victim.

can't believe that there are people defending what these cops did.I'm not defending it, just saying it shouldn't be a crime. I think homosexuality is wrong, too, but it's none of my business. Then there are my earlier posts: It's not entirely right, since they violated department policy and/or procedure.andFiring offense, sure. Prosecutable in civil court, perhaps, depending on the employment contract.Doesn't look like much of a defense to me.

Show me a victim.

Here in the PRNJ it takes at least an hour to buy a gun with all the paperwork you have to fill out.

What paperwork did these guys fill out?So does that mean the burden on them is too light, or on us too heavy?

SHOW ME A VICTIM.

TheEgg
October 23, 2005, 10:18 AM
Show me a victim.

Seveal of us have, over and over. You simply refuse to accept it.

Fair enough, but I think you are being deliberately obtuse here. "There are none so blind as those who WILL NOT see."

But, I know of no other way to try to make you see. I am out of ideas. Maybe someone else can do better.

TaTa.

Al Norris
October 23, 2005, 11:34 AM
My Sheriff in the PDRK made the politically correct decision to destroy weapons in the evidence locker rather than sell them to FFL holders for much needed funds and ammunition.
In Twin Falls last year, they did this. There was a huge howl put out by citizens and FFL's. This year, they auctioned them off to the FFL holders. People got some new used guns to buy and the TFPD got some extra cash.

twency
October 23, 2005, 01:44 PM
Sophistry of the worst sort. You can do better (and have, in this thread!).

The (temporary) confiscation of the weapon was legal and proper, as the hunter was drunk. But, no other reason was found to keep the weapon further, thus it was to be returned to him. It could not be, but only because some sticky fingered cops lifted it. Playing in your yard, legal or not, that was certainly not 'right'. And the article said nothing about the weapon being 'saved' because the cops took it - you invented that - the final disposition of that particular weapon had not been determined. If it HAD been destroyed, that destruction would have been premature and an error.I'm not sure to whom the charge of "sophistry" is being applied, but as I'm on record arguing that the actions of the officers kept the guns from destruction, I'm going to respond to this. The article very clearly indicates that the weapon was "saved" because the cops took it. The "temporary" confiscation, as you termed it, would have turned into a permanent one except for the actions of Det. Hoetzel. I quoted one of the passages which shows this two days ago. To wit:Believing the gun must inadvertently have been destroyed with the nearly 100 others that had just been "purged" from the evidence room — some dating back 20 years, the chief was about to tell the gun owner that the gun had been destroyed.It was the actions of the "sticky fingered cop" which made it possible for the gun to be returned:But before he could do so, the chief said that Det. Hoetzel came in and admitted that he had seen the gun among the others about to be driven off to the foundry and had asked for permission to take it.
Please note that I am not saying that these officers were right to do what they did. However, based on the article as written, which to my knowledge is the only documentation we have of this incident, the officers did not prevent the return of improperly taken property. In fact, they facilitated it, albeit by means which may not have been appropriate. The gun had been placed "among the others about to be driven off to the foundry." The following investigation confirmed this:During the subsequent investigation, led by Deputy Chief Lance Hebert, the three officers came forward and revealed that a total of five guns had been taken from boxes of guns that were about to be shipped off for melting. The guns were in open boxes inside the still-open trunk of a patrol car when they were taken.
The guns were about to be shipped off for melting when taken. They were saved from destruction by the actions of the officers. The police chief believed they had been melted-down, but was informed otherwise by the officer who had the hunter's shotgun. The officer saved the hunter's shotgun from destruction. It's quite clear.
___________________
-twency

By the way:
Main Entry: soph·ist·ry
Pronunciation: 'sä-f&-strE
Function: noun
1 : subtly deceptive reasoning or argumentation
You are accusing someone of being subtly deceptive in "the worst sort" of way. Please be more careful with your accusations.

twency
October 23, 2005, 01:53 PM
And now, you sit there and advocate--AND ENCOURAGE--the commission of a crime; the theft of firearms, which in this case signifies the complete and utter lack of integrity of the officers involvedAs I've previously indicated, I'm unconvinced that a crime occurred here. Please show me otherwise. I've explained my reasons, in detail, for believing so, in my prior discussion of the Supreme Court case California v. Greenwood.

I am not convinced that the officers where right to do what they did. Certainly, as a general rule, I believe all employees have a duty to obey all lawful and moral instructions given to them by their employer. But that's a non-criminal question of workplace conduct. It's a moral issue, not a legal one. The officers showed a lack of respect for those in authority over them. They also were "trash-pickers," if you want apply a vulgar insult to them. But they are not necessarily lawbreakers.

-twency

twency
October 23, 2005, 02:08 PM
I can't believe this is still going on and can't believe that there are people defending what these cops did.

Let me put another spin on it. Here in the PRNJ it takes at least an hour to buy a gun with all the paperwork you have to fill out.

What paperwork did these guys fill out?

Again, no one is above the law and our LEO's should be held to an even higher standard of integrity.

These guys should have been fired at the very least and prosecuted would have been nice.First, these guys aren't in the PRNJ. Good for them.

Second, why should any paperwork have to be filled out to transfer a longarm, or any gun for that matter? Here in the slightly-less-socialist-than-the-PRNJ Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as far as I know, I wasn't required to fill out any paperwork when my dad gave me my grandfather's Winchester Model 94. Why should I have to?

Third, "no one is above the law, and our LEO should be held to an even higher standard of integrity." Agreed.

Fourth, maybe these guys should be fired because they didn't do what their boss told them to do. What do you want to prosecute them for? Trash-picking?
Larceny, the chief said, is the taking of property belonging to another with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property. Who was being permanently deprived of their property by the taking of guns headed for the foundry to be turned into slag? Did they deprive the foundry of 5 cents of iron?

I'll go on record as saying that it would have been better if the weapons in question had been auctioned off to benefit the police force or community. It also would have been a trivial matter, in that case, to return the hunter's shotgun. Refund the buyer, and give the shotgun back to the hunter. But in their infinite wisdom, the powers that be decided to take valuable property, which was perfectly legal for private individuals to own, and destroy it in a feel-good measure to make some gun-haters happy.

(Imagine if they'd confiscated $100,000 cash 20 years earlier, and decided to purge their evidence room of it. Do you suppose they would have burned it?)

____________
-twency

mike45
October 23, 2005, 02:49 PM
I hate it when something like this happens. Everyone jumps on the "All cops are corrupt" bandwagon with some pretty inane statements. Kind of reminds me when someone uses a gun in a crime and the liberals say things like "we should ban ALL private gun ownership".

This theft from a property room with no charges is the exception, not the rule. Most property rooms are run like Fort Knox. Here in Ohio there are laws about how firearms turned over to the Department must be disposed of and just handing them over to a police officer is not one of those ways. Telling the captain in charge that you're going to grab a gun marked for destruction is like telling him you're going to take his 13 year old daughter out drinking at a strip bar... not just "no" but "hell no".

I hate to bust the bubble of all you cop haters out there but police officers are held to a higher standard on most police departments.


mike

DRZinn
October 23, 2005, 03:20 PM
Seveal of us have, over and over. You simply refuse to accept it.OK, who is it? Put it in small words so I can understand.

Mk VII
October 23, 2005, 06:08 PM
substitute "cocaine" for "gun" throughout. Is it right to take that cocaine that's on it's way to the furnace for my personal use?
'Integrity' is the issue here, knowing that "no one will ever know" and doing the right thing anyway.

Powderman
October 23, 2005, 06:15 PM
substitute "cocaine" for "gun" throughout. Is it right to take that cocaine that's on it's way to the furnace for my personal use?
'Integrity' is the issue here, knowing that "no one will ever know" and doing the right thing anyway.

THANK YOU!!!!

bjbarron
October 23, 2005, 06:50 PM
When I was arrested 3 decades ago in a nearby town, the guns I had in the trunk were confiscated. Unfortunately for this towns cops, my arrest was immediately expunged. When I went to the copshop the next day for my guns, they had initials already carved into the metal...the cops who took 'dibs' on them.

Sorry boys, I've still got them 30 years later, and the suspect cops were all fired for one reason or another within a year...the copshop closed, policing taken over by another jurisdiction, and the decent officers transferred.

thorn726
October 23, 2005, 06:54 PM
screw this, i dont remember where becoming a police officer entitles you to free guns form the public , other than your dept issue.

total scum. yeah sure, take whatever from the evidence locker.


-so what happens on the day the send all the confiscated marijuana to the incinerator???
CT

ridiculous>>>!!! >> my dad worked across the bay form Riker's for a long time.
once he could smell the police buring off a big weed score.
now if he could smell it across the water, about a mile or more form rikers- what about all those prisoners???

THIS is why Prop H in SF is total BS. there is no provision for what to do with the seized guns.

cropcirclewalker
October 23, 2005, 09:58 PM
I lived in RI for 10 years after I got outa the Navy. After Looisiana, maybe the most corrupt state in the Union.

Hey, back in colonial times it was populated by pirates and religious fanatics.

Cops scarfing up the good stuff outa the evidence room? Absolutely believable.

The guy that takes the M1 into the cop shop so that it can be destroyed.....If he wanted his local cop to have it instead of being destroyed......why not just give it to him?

He wanted it to be destroyed.

The only thing that I see wrong is that if the guy wanted it destroyed and was a reasonably long time resident of RI, then WHY THE HECK did he take it into the cop shop?

He should have known better.

twency
October 24, 2005, 12:04 AM
Substitute "cocaine" for "gun" throughout. Is it right to take that cocaine that's on it's way to the furnace for my personal use?
'Integrity' is the issue here, knowing that "no one will ever know" and doing the right thing anyway.
This is not a valid comparison. It is not legal under almost any circumstances for private individuals to possess cocaine. Completely unrelated. Guns are not automatically contraband, except in some limited circumstances. Try again.
_____________
twency

twency
October 24, 2005, 12:10 AM
The guy that takes the M1 into the cop shop so that it can be destroyed.....If he wanted his local cop to have it instead of being destroyed......why not just give it to him?

He wanted it to be destroyed.

The only thing that I see wrong is that if the guy wanted it destroyed and was a reasonably long time resident of RI, then WHY THE HECK did he take it into the cop shop?

He should have known better.
I don't recall any mention anywhere in this article of an M1 being voluntarily turned over to the police to be destroyed. What are you talking about, and what does it have to do with the questions of whether or not it was a.)legal and/or b.)right for the police officers in the article posted to take confiscated guns which where foolishly scheduled for destruction by a police department too shortsighted to auction them off?
___________________
-twency

DRZinn
October 24, 2005, 12:21 AM
substitute "cocaine" for "gun" throughout. Is it right to take that cocaine that's on it's way to the furnace for my personal use?
'Integrity' is the issue here, knowing that "no one will ever know" and doing the right thing anyway.Again, I never said it was right, just that it shouldn't be a crime. And yes, to me the situation would be no different if it were cocaine.

Ryder
October 24, 2005, 12:48 AM
The cops around here who have been caught stealing (anything and everything) have been fired to my knowledge. Anyone that would use their official capacity to shield them is no better than a thief himself. I've heard the "sloppy evidence handling" excuse before. Didn't realize until now it was a code word for officer theft. Good to know for future reference.

Seems they believe they can't steal them twice. Many of those 100 guns have already been stolen from their legal owners under color of law. The police do anything it takes to confiscate a gun in the first place. I had a Model 19 S&W supposedly melted down and you couldn't count the number of sworn testimony perjuries it took to accomplish that on your ten fingers. They even called in officers who had zero involvement with the situation to backup the liars.

There's a problem with thinking a little corruption is not bad. Where is the line? What percentage of corruption is good corruption and what percentage bad corruption? I'd say there is only right and wrong here. I don't believe it is ok to lie and steal even if it is for something you think to be a good cause (getting those evil guns off the street and into your closet),

Joejojoba111
October 24, 2005, 07:50 AM
Try to... lost anything... the officers having taken the guns, which were already in the possession.

Hooray, I can quote misleading parts of your writing too! When I saw you doing it I though it must take years of practice to be deceitful like that, but now that I try it's really quite easy!

It's pretty clear where you stand on this, they did no wrong. It's pretty clear that I think they did wrong, and then they did wrong again by being police officers doing wrong. I sorta feel that they get all these nifty rights, so they have More responsibilities. You sorta express that they have nifty rights, and less responsibilities,

Agree to disagree. Next time your doctor disposes of some medical waste of yours, and he actually gives it to your insurance company so they can see you're heart-disease risk is high, don't fret it, because no-one lost anything.

And when you give your confidential documents to a company which shreds confidential documents, don't fret it when they read it and pass them around to your business enemies, because no-ones a victim.

And when a judge orders tha Bob go to jail for armed robbery, and his pistol be destroyed, don't fret if police steal the pistol, because no-one is a victim.

It's victimless crimes, man, it's all good. Just because by every standard they broke the law, and the legal system bent over backwards to exculpate them, that's no reason to worry that division of powers has been corrupted. Just because police ignore laws they find inconvenient doesn't mean they're bad people, they're just criminals tasked with enforcing the law. What's wrong with that? You have a problem with criminals enforcing laws they decide they feel like enforcing? And you have a problem with their bosses keeping them around with a wink and a nod? And you have a problem with the court system (which is too soft on criminals, remember) looking the other way when police break cardinal laws?

Man lighten up, there's no victim. And it's not like there's a theory called 'slippery slope'. And it's not like criminals who get away with crimes will repeat their behaviors and expand their endeavors. No way. This was just one random example, 1 in a billion. And it's co-incidence that the court let them go, and their bosses don't mind. 1 in a trillion odds, long-shot.

DRZinn
October 24, 2005, 10:41 AM
Again, Joe, try to keep up. I never said it was right, just that it shouldn't be a crime. I think, for example, that cheating on your wife is wrong, but I don't think a man should go to jail for it.

You sorta express that they have nifty rights, and less responsibilities,Try a reading comprehension course, Joe, it might help you out a little.

Next time your doctor disposes of some medical waste of yours, and he actually gives it to your insurance company so they can see you're heart-disease risk is high, don't fret it, because no-one lost anything.

And when you give your confidential documents to a company which shreds confidential documents, don't fret it when they read it and pass them around to your business enemies, because no-ones a victim.
Not even close to being the same. The case in question involves no invasion of privacy. See the difference, Joe?

And when a judge orders tha Bob go to jail for armed robbery, and his pistol be destroyed, don't fret if police steal the pistol, because no-one is a victim.

Now that one IS the same, and I'd prefer the gun be sold or donated, but if the alternative is destruction I'd consider one of the perks for the cop.

Show me a victim, Joe. And try to keep up.

Art Eatman
October 24, 2005, 11:39 AM
Funny-odd. We regularly bewail the destruction of firearms by some police jurisdiction. Yet, when a cop does what most of us would do if we thought we could get away with it, we start bad-mouthing the cop.

Me, I'd rather bad-mouth the (bleep/bleep) who passed the evil law.

Art

Cellar Dweller
October 24, 2005, 05:38 PM
11-41-3 Embezzlement and fraudulent conversion. – Every official of a financial institution and every officer, agent, clerk, servant, or other person to whom any money or other property shall be entrusted for any specific purpose, and every person acting as executor, administrator, conservator, guardian, receiver, assignee, custodian, or trustee appointed by order, decree or judgment of court, or by deed, will or other instrument in writing, who shall embezzle or fraudulently convert to his or her own use, or who shall take or secrete, with intent to embezzle or fraudulently convert to his or her own use, any money or other property which shall have come into his or her possession or shall be under his or her care or charge by virtue of his or her employment or for that specific purpose or by virtue of his or her acting as executor, administrator, guardian, conservator, receiver, assignee, custodian, or trustee, and every person who shall collect or receive money or property from another for a commission to be retained out of the money or other property so collected or received, and who shall fraudulently retain out of that money or property so collected or received more than the amount of the commission, and shall embezzle or fraudulently convert it to his or her own use, or shall take or secrete it with intent to embezzle or fraudulently to convert the same to his or her own use, shall be deemed guilty of larceny and shall be fined not more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) or three (3) times the value of the money or property thus embezzled or converted, whichever is greater, or imprisoned not more than twenty (20) years, or both, except that if the sum or value of the property embezzled is less than one hundred dollars ($100), he or she shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

Clear enough? One or more officers, ENTRUSTED to take government-custody (not gov't-owned) items for meltdown, took items for their own usage. It is a fraudulent conversion because they were never given or sold the firearms. The owners of the firearms (if non-criminal) or the government (for criminal firearms) did not give the individual officers permission to keep the property.
if that property is a firearm as defined in § 11-47-5.1, regardless of its value, shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than ten (10) years, by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or both

Police arrest so-called criminals every day for "victimless crimes" and "ignorance of the law is no excuse" for the masses...moral or not IT IS THE LAW...time and again, "if you don't like the law change it." It is the law, if ANYONE should be held simply TO the standard it is the lawkeepers. It is irrelevant if there is an actual victim because the LAW doesn't require one. This was not dumpster-diving, therefore any arguments on that are strawmen.

Highland Ranger
October 24, 2005, 11:12 PM
Funny-odd. We regularly bewail the destruction of firearms by some police jurisdiction. Yet, when a cop does what most of us would do if we thought we could get away with it, we start bad-mouthing the cop.

Me, I'd rather bad-mouth the (bleep/bleep) who passed the evil law.

Art

It's ok to do both Art.

But just because it's a bad law doesn't mean these guys get to do what they want. Add on top of that that cops have to be held to a higher standard of ethics and integrity and then you have them on two counts of "shouldn't be wearing a badge".

Just exploring another theoretical - I have a piece of paper on every gun I own. Granted older guns get transferred in private sales without paperwork but what would happen if this gun was stolen? Would the cop report it was missing from his home? When it was used as a murder weapon in a crime, would that original hunter be dragged into court and question about the firearm he bought? He'd better have his little slip of paper that says it was "Destroyed" when that happens . . . and even if he did . . . what then?

Still amzed that this is even a discussion; wonder if we have some devil's advocates or if some of these folks actually believe what they are saying.

Hope its the former.

Joejojoba111
October 25, 2005, 12:51 AM
Again, Joe, try to keep up. I never said it was right, just that it shouldn't be a crime. I think, for example, that cheating on your wife is wrong, but I don't think a man should go to jail for it.

I guess I was kind of assuming stuff you didn't say, and your point is pretty clear there, my bad.

But I still disagree. I think I have a perfect example.

You go to the bank, and ask the teller to print your account information. You have all your stuff there. You look it over, then do your banking, and are about to leave. The teller says, "Do you want your papers?". You say, "No, just throw them out."

The teller puts them in their pocket.

No victim, no-one hurt, no-one missing anything. You wanted the papers destroyed, she pocketed them.


With the bank teller, people would say, "That's pretty wrong, I bet she gets fired, maybe charged with something." But with police officers, it's twofold. They did the bad act, and they did it as a police officer - the guy who's supposed to be enforcing the laws. At the very least this is a conflict of interest!


And if all that fails to sway you, consider one last argument:

-If police can get away with covertly taking and owning items they confiscated, don't you think it is more likely that they will confiscate more stuff?

And we already know they are dishonest, so you have a known thief and criminal, who has the power to confiscate anything they want.

There is no way that can not be a bad thing.

twency
October 25, 2005, 12:58 AM
Cellar Dwellar: That's quite a statute. Since you didn't indicate what you were quoting, I googled it. I gather you are quoting: http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE11/11-41/11-41-3.HTM and http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE11/11-41/11-41-5.HTM. Please be so kind as to include a link or reference in the future, so we can all follow along.


I think you might have a winner here. I have to admit that on the face of it, this sounds like it applies. I would add one caveat, however. The statute clearly can't be strictly applied as written, without at least some room for prosecutorial discretion.

The statute is almost comically broad, and actually would include my hypothetical trash-picker, whom you have declared to be a strawman. As this statute (11-41-3) reads, any trashman who sees a thrown-away water-gun in the trash and pulls it out of the trash on the way to the landfill is equally guilty of the same crime under the same statute, and subject to a considerable fine and term of imprisonment. Consider how the statute perfectly describes this trash collector:

1.) The trash has been entrusted to the garbage man for the specific purpose of being conveyed to the landfill, incinerator, or other designated place of disposal.

"...or other person to whom any money or other property shall be entrusted for any specific purpose."

2.) But he doesn't take it to the dump, he keeps it so he can use it himself. Maybe he stashes it away in the cab of the truck somewhere so he can use it later.

"...who shall embezzle or fraudulently convert to his or her own use, or who shall take or secrete, with intent to embezzle or fraudulently convert to his or her own use..."

3.) Because he is a garbage collector, he was given the trash for the express purpose of conveying it to a place where it would be destroyed or rendered unavailable for use by any person.

"...any money or other property which shall have come into his or her possession or shall be under his or her care or charge by virtue of his or her employment or for that specific purpose..."

4.) Therefore, I think it's safe to say that under this statute, strictly read, our hypothetical trashman is quite guilty of fraudulent conversion, and must be fined up to $1,000, or spend up to a year in prison, or both.

"...except that if the sum or value of the property embezzled is less than one hundred dollars ($100), he or she shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or imprisoned not more than one year, or both."


So where does that leave us? A strict reading of this extremely broad statute says that any time, anyone, anywhere, for any reason, in all of The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, does something unexpected with stuff that someone else gave to them for the purpose of doing something in particular with it, they are guilty of embezzlement and/or fraudulent conversion.

This is obviously an unreasonably strict and literal interpretation of the statute.

There is necessarily room for interpration and discretion with this statute, as with any. Really, I think a fair question here is, who was harmed by the officers actions? They didn't do anything that deprived anyone of that person's rightful property. In fact, they made it possible to return a piece of property which had been improperly destined for the smelting pot.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I don't think what they did was right. I agree with others who've stated that officers of the law should be held to higher standard of accountability, because of the public trust placed in them. But I'm not convinced they committed a crime for which they could or should reasonably be prosecuted. The State Attorney General's apparently didn't either.

The more egregious malfeasance, in my opinion, was done by the lunatics who decided it would be better to destroy what must have been thousands, if not ten thousands, of dollars of public property ("nearly 100" guns), rather than selling the property and using the revenue for the good of the public in some way.

_______________
-twency

DRZinn
October 25, 2005, 01:15 AM
It is irrelevant if there is an actual victim because the LAW doesn't require one.Wrong again. Look back to where I said, twice, that I'm arguing morality, not legality. If you get arrested for carrying in DC, does that mean you were wrong to carry in DC? And if you saye yes, then we have nothing more to say to one another.

The teller says, "Do you want your papers?". You say, "No, just throw them out."

The teller puts them in their pocket.Still an invasion of privacy, which would be wrong. But not the same thing.

If police can get away with covertly taking and owning items they confiscated, don't you think it is more likely that they will confiscate more stuff?Now that's a damn good point. But that's part of why I'm not saying the cops were right to have taken the weapons, only that it shouldn't be a crime.

Cellar Dweller
October 25, 2005, 05:10 PM
Wrong again. Look back to where I said, twice, that I'm arguing morality, not legality. If you get arrested for carrying in DC, does that mean you were wrong to carry in DC? And if you saye yes, then we have nothing more to say to one another.

If I get arrested for carrying in DC, there'd be a thread with maybe[I] 45% sympathy for doing the morally right thing, 45% pointing out that I'm doing a disservice to ALL law-abiding gunowners, and 10% suspecting I'm a drugged-out non-convicted felon anyway who finally got caught. 100% (OK, at least 99.8% :D ) would agree that I AM breaking the law as written, and if I don't like it, vote in CCW-approving representatives OR move OR have both the cash and the pull and a high-profile winning-type attorney to get the case to the Supreme Court (and win).

However, as a mere citizen, I am:
1. not expected to know the law...but ignorance is no excuse
2. part of the statistical group that is [I]expected[I] to be criminals

LEOs, on the other hand, are:
1. expected to be [I]somewhatfamiliar with the law in their neck of the woods, PLUS have a cheat-sheet/Cliff's Notes book, PLUS have access to judges and district attorneys who can fill in the blanks
2. part of the statistical group that is [B]unexpected[B] to be criminals
3. should do everything possible in a non-life-threatening situation to avoid even the appearance of impropriety...or CONSULT an EXPERT (see #1).

I'm not holding the officers to a [B]higher[B] standard, just to meet the standard itself...
I shouldn't commit crimes because it is my best interest not to suffer the consequences. Police shouldn't commit crimes because they have sworn an oath to UPHOLD THE FRIGGIN' LAW and the community pays them to do just that (and it's not in their best interests to suffer the consequences).

DRZinn
October 25, 2005, 05:32 PM
100% ... would agree that I AM breaking the law as written, and if I don't like it, vote in CCW-approving representatives OR move OR have both the cash and the pull and a high-profile winning-type attorney to get the case to the Supreme Court (and win).You obviously have missed the part where I said, thrice, that I'm arguing morality, not legality. Some of us believe that the law is right, and breaking the law is wrong, no matter what the law says. Some of us don't. I'm in the latter category.

benewton
October 25, 2005, 05:56 PM
Didn't want to get involved in this one: stealing things is wrong, no matter what the circumstances. But I think it's more criminal when engaged in by those who are supposed to enforce the law. And this was stealing, if not theft by law, and there can't be any rational discussion of that fact.

But I worked for Raytheon in Portsmouth, and a coworker pissed off one of the local cops, for reasons I no longer remember.

For about a month or so, he got a speeding ticket, or two, or three, a week going home from work, and all, or at least most, engineers not being the most stupid people in the universe, flat out had to be lies.

I think it had something to do with picking up the "wrong" woman, and you can all guess how that gets translated, in "cop talk", to speeding.

I fail to remember how he beat them, because he had to, else do the bus thing, but it was probably his fault, since, as memory serves, he did the Camaro gig.

I was doing my first RX-7 back then, so my attention was in order!
Was also doing a cop's ex, which made it even more important.

I left RI a decade ago, but I always thought it was the most corrupt state in the universe. But, after NOLA, perhaps there are other places I need to contract into, not only for the work and money, but for the perspective.

Cellar Dweller
October 25, 2005, 05:58 PM
Sorry about not linking, I thought I did but did so much editing I guess it slipped...

I said the hypothetical garbage collector is a strawman but didn't specify "as applied to this case." Re: Supreme Court and yeah, once garbage hits the curb it's fair game (documents/debris upheld as evidence, etc.).

No dumpsters, no recycling bins, not left on the curb. It was stuff by policy that can't be tossed in the trash, specifically entrusted to one or more officers to convey it to a disposal site. Once it reaches the disposal site, the officer(s) are golden. If it doesn't reach the disposal site, OOPS.

I give you money to pay a bill for me and you pocket it instead...that's larceny. You mug me, that's robbery of some sort.
I give you my car to take in for service and you sell it to the dealer or attempt to get it titled in your name instead...that's larceny. You hotwire it from my driveway, that's theft.
I take my watch to a watchmaker and he sells it or attempts to keep it, even though my bill is paid in full...that's larceny.
I lend you my lawnmower for a day and you move across the country while keeping it...that's larceny. I leave my lawnmower on the lawn to answer the phone, you grab it, it's theft.
I "donate" money to the Made-Up Taxable Deduction Charity Of The Week but the charity doesn't exist and you pocket the money, that's larceny. I give you stuff to donate to the Salvation Army and you keep it, that's larceny.

I toss my watch or drop my bundle o' cash or leave my lawnmower on trash day with the trash...it's fair game (per Supremes, and common most normal places around the country)...abandoned car'll get me tickets. Trash is WILLFULLY abandoning property - theft is taking of someone's property without consent, larceny is taking property with consent with the expectation of getting it back OR with the expectation of fulfilling a contract.

The officers did not fulfill the "contract" in that they attempted to convert entrusted (since at least ONE firearm was supposed to be returned to its owner) stuff that WASN'T their property INTO their property; to paraphrase Aqua Teen Hunger Force's Inigignot, "your things are now his, through our actions."

Cutting off a what-if: Even if 100% of the firearms belonged to criminals (which they didn't), they stole from the State (as in government entity) and indirectly the general public (there's another victim).

Cellar Dweller
October 25, 2005, 06:22 PM
You obviously have missed the part where I said, thrice, that I'm arguing morality, not legality. Some of us believe that the law is right, and breaking the law is wrong, no matter what the law says. Some of us don't. I'm in the latter category.

What happened to "show me a victim?" :rolleyes:

Morality: OK then, the officers involved should resign as "conciencious objectors." If not, then charge 'em with false representation or fire 'em because they won't or can't do the job they are sworn (and paid) to do. :fire:

There would be a lot fewer laws on the books IF they were enforced AS WRITTEN - if everyone got a ticket for >1mph over the limit, ya think the limit would be raised? What is more messed up: having selective enforcement of stupid/bad/immoral laws (and the appearance of free passes to the elite and their "enforcement arm" and their buddies) or equal enforcement of stupid/bad/immoral laws, which would lead to their repeal and sunsets on new legislation?

DRZinn
October 25, 2005, 07:49 PM
What happened to "show me a victim?" Still stands.

they stole from the State (as in government entity) and indirectly the general public (there's another victim).Nope. They lost nothing.

Morality: OK then, the officers involved should resign as "conciencious objectors." If not, ...or fire 'em because they won't or can't do the job they are sworn (and paid) to do.Valid points. But it still shouldn't be a crime, because THERE'S NO VICTIM.

cropcirclewalker
October 25, 2005, 07:58 PM
Mr. Zinn is probably right. No victim.

There is a violation of 14 amendment though, which I don't exactly accept as a valid amendment, since it was ratified under the coercion of not being allowed back into the union as a state and or just remaining as an occupied territory as a result of losing the second war for american independence.

Equal protection.

If I was a garbage man and found an M1 or a .22 pistol in somebody's trash on the curb and put it in my trunk after work, I would still be liable for prosecution. I don't know if it would be for failing to file a 4473 or violation of the Brady Law or something.

They would find something.

twency
October 25, 2005, 10:39 PM
Cellar Dweller: I'm not completely convinced, but I think you have a good line of reasoning there. I'm going to stop arguing this because even though we may disagree on some elements, I generally agree with what you are saying.

cropwcirclewalker:If I was a garbage man and found an M1 or a .22 pistol in somebody's trash on the curb and put it in my trunk after work, I would still be liable for prosecution. I don't know if it would be for failing to file a 4473 or violation of the Brady Law or something.
Well, the gun in the news story we're discussing here was a longarm, which doesn't require a 4473 for a private transfer here in PA, I think. (I've never been involved in a private transfer outside of inheriting one, so I've never checked to be sure.) If it was a .22 rifle, I don't think there's a crime they could make stick. Now a pistol, sadly, is another matter, and you might be right about that.
_________________
-twency

cropcirclewalker
October 25, 2005, 11:22 PM
Mr. benewton, Crop here:

Hey, two ships in the night. I worked at Raytheon in Portsmouth back in '69-'70.

Ocean systems.

Yes, I agree, RI, (prior to NOLA) hadda be the most corrupt state in the Union.

If you never lived there, you would never believe it.

That is why I understand the chief's position.

No harm, no foul.

Except, If I could speak Latin, I would say...........

Who is to watch the watchers?

edited because I got the wrong poster

Wastemore
October 25, 2005, 11:54 PM
I don't have time to read the whole thread, so if someone already mentioned this forgive me.

What if *I* walked by and decided I need a new coyote rig and took the 22lr (that had little or no value) out of the open box inside the trunk of the cop car?

No victim, no crime.. right?

DRZinn
October 26, 2005, 12:15 AM
No victim, no crime.. right?Well, I don't think it should be a crime, but that doesn't mean you wouldn't get slammed. And the cop who left his trunk open as well.

insidious_calm
October 26, 2005, 01:08 AM
So if I get drunk and drive home I've committed no crime, right? Nobody got hurt = no victim right? That's great Doc, maybe I'll take up drinking.....:rolleyes:


In this situation the public is the victim. The guns would have been melted down and sold for scrap metal. Thus the public lost the amount of what that scrap would have been worth. Enough for a misdemeanor, screw the thieving crooks!


I.C.

DRZinn
October 26, 2005, 01:34 AM
So if I get drunk and drive home I've committed no crime, right? Nobody got hurt = no victim right?Pretty much. But even that's not the same because you still put a lot of people in danger.

Thus the public lost the amount of what that scrap would have been worth.Since the beginning, I've been waiting for someone to say that. It's the only flaw in my argument, and it's a tiny one. So if they were charged with theft of the value of that amount of scrap metal, I guess I wouldn't complain.

Baba Louie
October 26, 2005, 11:14 AM
circlecrop... Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who watches the watchmen?)
It appears that someone does watch the watchers or sheepdogs of our society. Caught. Reported. Penance of a sort. And once again, for the majority, no problems. Good men and women doing a nasty, hard job.

Guns slated for destruction... skim a couple of choice ones off the top. Got caught after the fact, wrists slapped... I'm sure it is carefully written up in their "PERMANENT RECORD"... (yeah right) that they turned themselves in, got fined, went back to doing a nasty, hard job, and probably doing it well.
Next time (and there will be a next time) maybe things can be on the level up front, paperwork, requisitions for scrap wood and metal prior to trip to foundry.

We DO expect and hold our lawdogs to a higher standard than the run-o'-the-mill citizen... and maybe we shouldn't. They are people who put their pants on one leg at a time like me.

But then again... maybe we should...Trust. And Verify.

I can only judge them by my own standards... and I'd probably want to see what was in the pile slated for destruction... and see if there was any way (legally) I could... ya know... save & adopt one or two of the poor little guys... wouldn't you? And if there was no way legally... what's that phrase, ethical dilemna (who's watching me now? No one? Cost vs. Risk? Breaking THE LAW or breaking administrative policy?

svtruth
October 26, 2005, 12:48 PM
+1 Baba Louie
I live in RI and would have loved an opportunity to pick over the pile. But because I'm just a citizen, I did not get an opportunity to.
Seems to me if I am not allowed to skim off a firearm, the LEO should not be either.
JMHO.

justashooter
October 26, 2005, 02:12 PM
Cellar Dweller:

cropwcirclewalker:Well, the gun in the news story we're discussing here was a longarm, which doesn't require a 4473 for a private transfer here in PA, I think. (I've never been involved in a private transfer outside of inheriting one, so I've never checked to be sure.) If it was a .22 rifle, I don't think there's a crime they could make stick. Now a pistol, sadly, is another matter, and you might be right about that.
_________________
-twency


interestingly enough, if the recipient has a ccw, there is no requirement for a transfer process under the 6100 series statutes.

antarti
October 26, 2005, 03:03 PM
The case might never have come to light had it not been for the circumstances surrounding one of the missing five guns.

That weapon, an Armsport 12-gauge shotgun, had been seized from a drunk driver. When it was later determined that the man was a hunter and that there was no reason to keep his gun, he was told he could retrieve it.

Except that by then it was nowhere to be found.

Believing the gun must inadvertently have been destroyed with the nearly 100 others that had just been "purged" from the evidence room some dating back 20 years, the chief was about to tell the gun owner that the gun had been destroyed.

But before he could do so, the chief said that Det. Hoetzel came in and admitted that he had seen the gun among the others about to be driven off to the foundry and had asked for permission to take it.

Sounds to me like the 12-guage wasn't supposed to be destroyed. Also sounds like the chief "assumed" it had been unintentionally destroyed when it couldn't be found.

The whole issue of how would the Chief have made the owner "whole" after that notwithstanding, doesn't anybody see anything fishy here?

How much you wanna bet it only made it into the "destroy" box because somebody wanted to skim it off later? Sorry, I don't buy the premise that this was "somebody gun-loving saving firearms from a bad fate" or "it sure seems a waste to toss these guns when we LEOs can use them" or "hey, that was Hank's gun, and I'm a friend of his".

I (personally) think there's more to the story. I worked in a grocery when very young. And some employees used to stuff cases of beer into empty boxes and put them out with the trash, to retreive later... same tactic I would wager.

Who did they ask permission from then? Ostensibly the chief right? He seems to know nothing about it. Gimme a break.

Then wagons got circled and the discovery got cut off, and "just in time" (for the Chief as much as the officers sake) too... sure they "admitted to stealing" what amounts to garbage from the pail, as opposed to putting it there and then stealing it.

Slap on the wrist? Check! Everybody happy? Case closed!

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