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Dothan, Alabama LEOs are kids in candy store

Discussion in 'Legal' started by CZ 75 BD, Jun 21, 2006.

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  1. CZ 75 BD

    CZ 75 BD Member

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    If this was you me, I doubt we would be typing or reading right now.




    http://www.al.com/newsflash/regiona...-22/115092715760790.xml&storylist=alabamanews


    Dothan gun audit prompts call for disciplinary action
    6/21/2006, 5:53 p.m. ET
    The Associated Press


    DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — Disciplinary action will be recommended for Dothan police because an internal city audit of firearms in the department's evidence room found little care was given to tracking guns, some of which ended up in the hands of officers.

    Chief John Powell's recommendations to the City of Dothan Personnel Board will include letters of caution, reprimand and suspension. But Powell said he will not recommend any terminations and that none of the policy violations reveal criminal action.

    "We've followed down all the leads we had and have recovered as many guns as I think we are going to," Powell said Tuesday. "I want to commend the officers that returned the weapons."

    Powell stressed that the audit goes back many years and that many of the officers involved were not aware of the department's policy or that they were breaking those policies.

    The findings of the audit were reported by The Dothan Eagle, which got a copy of the audit Friday through a public records request.

    More than 760 firearms were verified as existing in the room and recorded in the department's computer system, but 170 guns listed were not found.

    Among the findings: Guns were taken for personal use and guns listed as destroyed were being used by officers; guns assigned to one officer ended up with another; guns reported stolen were never returned to owners but kept by officers; and weapons were "checked out" to city employees in other agencies and even to private citizens.

    ___

    Information from: The Dothan Eagle


    Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
    This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
    © 2006 al.com All Rights Reserved.
     
  2. Car Knocker

    Car Knocker Member

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    I always thought that taking something that didn't belong to you was called theft.

    Silly me! :rolleyes:
     
  3. FTF

    FTF member

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    Thank god for the 'blue line'... you can steal as many guns as you want... probably get a promotion for it. :cuss:
     
  4. kel

    kel Member

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    http://copswritingcops.com/

    It's just a perk of the job, like drunk driving. Every job has it perks, you know?
     
  5. carpettbaggerr

    carpettbaggerr Member

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    I don't really see a problem here. I'd have trouble sending a nice gun off to be destroyed. Melt a rare old S&W or falsify some paperwork? Hmmmmm
     
  6. DeepHelmet

    DeepHelmet Member

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    Recovered stolen guns are IMMEDIATELY returned to the rightful owner after being processed for prints etc. I've personally called owners to a scene of a traffic stop to recover his guns. He had to wait for crime lab to process them, but then he was off. Keeping those for personal use is clearly theft, and should be prosecuted.
     
  7. jrou111

    jrou111 Member

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    A coworker friend of mine was a gunsmith as a Dothan pawn shop, where the former sherrif and his wife were taking the confiscated guns and pawning them. IIRC, they are in prison now.

    Many of the guns had "bodies" on them :eek:
     
  8. Vex

    Vex Member

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    Would anyone rather these guns were destroyed? I remember a thread a while back where the majority opinion was that guns should be given back to law abiding citizens or used by police before being destroyed.... and now that this is happening, the majority opinion has conveniently switched to oppose the police?

    Hell, for all we know, the cops could be true supporters of the 2A, and are risking their jobs to make sure these guns are properly used instead of destroyed.

    The hipocrasy is quite annoying.
     
  9. mzmtg

    mzmtg member

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    So I'm a hypocrite because I want cops to be prosecuted for STEALING GUNS in the same fashion that they would prosecute me?
     
  10. YellowLab

    YellowLab member

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    Ummm it the LAW to destroy them. Its not the LAW to have crooked cops keep them for thier own.

    How about if the crooked cops do what WE have to do, VOTE, rally support, get changes LEGALY impemented? Naw..... what was I thinking.

    Shut up and PAY YOUR TAXES. sheep.
     
  11. Vex

    Vex Member

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    Just trying to get a consistent opinion on what to do with these left over guns.


    YellowLab, you're right. Insulting me is constructive. :rolleyes:
     
  12. mzmtg

    mzmtg member

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    These pieces (PUN!) of evidence should be handled or disposed of as proscribed by state law.
     
  13. Daniel T

    Daniel T Member

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    True, but it's not coming from where you think it is, which isn't a surprise to anyone except maybe you.
     
  14. HankB

    HankB Member

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    Vex, do you also feel the officers were doing a good deed when
    I believe that most THR members - myself included - regard this as, at a minimum, receiving stolen property.
     
  15. Zero_DgZ

    Zero_DgZ Member

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    Not to mention theft of a firearm, which was a felony last I checked. And a shrewd prosecutor could also cram posession of a firearm during a felony in there, too.
     
  16. Hawkmoon

    Hawkmoon Member

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    Apparently theft is not considered a criminal act in Dothan, AL.

    Questionable judgment by the chief. If any of us went out and robbed a bank or a gun shop, you you think the chief would hand us a commendation if we gave the loot back five years later? I doubt it very much.
     
  17. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Member

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    I suspect some high ranking friends of the Chief were involved, in and outside the department.

    Pilgrim
     
  18. Vex

    Vex Member

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    Hank, I'm sorry, but I don't want you to have the misconception that I think stealing is okay. I wasn't condoning the actions of the officers. I was merely playign devil's advocate in an attempt to find out why in one thread the majority opinion is to save the guns, while another thread advocates destroying them.

    I want to know if the officers were using the guns for duty, or taking them home for personal enjoyment.
     
  19. Ironbarr

    Ironbarr Member In Memoriam

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    Maybe it's how they are "saved" and how they are "destroyed".

    .
     
  20. Hawkmoon

    Hawkmoon Member

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    You're fighting the wrong argument.

    I'm all in favor of homeless guns being used, or transferred in some way to legal owners, rather than see them destroyed. But ... there needs to be a legal procedure for doing so. Whether or not you recognize it, what you are calling hypocrisy ... isn't. While I would like to see the homeless gunds saved, that desire stops several meters short of thinking it might be okay for police officers to (a) steal the guns from the evidence locker; (b) prevent the return of stolen guns to identifiable legal owners thereof; (c) falsify official records; (d) ... (what am I forgetting here? There must be more laws being broken than just the trhee I listed.)

    I don't see any hypocrisy whatsoever. Are you telling us you think it's okay for the police to steal, falsify, and deprive lawful owners of their property under any circumstances, and for any reason?
     
  21. Vex

    Vex Member

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    Does that anwer your question?
     
  22. Autolycus

    Autolycus Member

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    This is complete garbage.

    They stole the guns and they should be forced to fess up to it. Plain and simple. I am willing to bet that the chief probably also got himself a new gun. Please post a follow up if possible.
     
  23. Byron Quick

    Byron Quick Moderator In Memoriam

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    Vex,

    I think there should be a legal procedure for guns seized permanently by the police-as well as departmental firearms being replaced-to be sold to the public. As members of the public, the police officers could also buy these guns at public auction.

    I also think that the officers involved in this need to be prosecuted if evidence can be gathered. Especially the officers responsible for preventing stolen guns from being returned to the rightful owners. That is a complete and total perversion of their lawful authority.

    Personally, if I was a member of the Dothan PD, I wouldn't be too happy knowing I had to count on one of these guys. We already know the department can't trust them, the public can't trust them...can their fellow officers trust them in the crunch?

    If I'm not mistaken, incidents such as this in Georgia would initiate an independent investigation of the police department by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation who then turn their findings over to the DA.
     
  24. nick012000

    nick012000 Member

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    I know other confiscated property is sold at police auction. Apparently usually for quite cheap, as well. Why not firearms?
     
  25. CZ 75 BD

    CZ 75 BD Member

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    Editorial

    Review needed
    The Dothan Eagle
    Thursday, June 22, 2006


    After publication of an internal audit report characterizing the Dothan Police Department’s evidence locker as some police officers’ toy chest, Dothan Police Chief John Powell downplayed the situation, saying he was still looking into it. Despite his incomplete review, he stated no criminal action took place. While some suspensions may result, he will not recommend any terminations.
    Powell is saying the wrong things. For the credibility of the department, the reputation of the 75 percent of the police force that’s not involved and the accountability of the municipal government, he should be announcing his intent to have the audit and its finding reviewed by the state attorney general to determine whether the department’s “tradition” of making weapons and other items in the evidence room available for the asking - to police officers and, in some cases, civilians, retired or terminated officers and other city employees - violates state or federal law.
    The audit, which was presented to Powell and City Manager Mike West on Feb. 7 but not released until June 16 following a public records request by the Eagle, uncovered a startling culture among at least 25 percent of the police force:
    - A complete inventory of the evidence room has never been completed.
    - 170 firearms listed as being in evidence were not in the evidence room.
    - After Powell informed officers to bring back any items they had “checked out” of the evidence room, 40 officers returned 102 firearms and two former officers returned four firearms.
    - Officers had stolen guns that had been recovered but not returned to the rightful owners.
    - Officers had weapons that had been logged as destroyed.
    - Officers had weapons that had been “checked out” by other officers.
    - Civilians and non-police city employees were allowed to “check out” weapons from the evidence room.
    - Evidence such as power tools, televisions, cameras and stereo equipment were listed as “condemned for law enforcement purposes.” Condemnation of such material is an action of the court.
    - There are no controls regarding disposal of the guns.
    - Guns marked for destruction were given to officers who asked for them.
    - One officer returned 13 guns; another returned seven.
    - The audit reports 25 percent of the force - including 18 supervisors - are implicated in the evidence room hand-outs.
    The report raises far more questions than it answers. Why would an officer want a weapon that would turn up as stolen, destroyed or returned to an owner if run through a national law enforcement database? While it’s reasonable that an officer would request an additional weapon as a back-up to his standard equipment, why would an officer have seven? Or 13? Of what legitimate use to law enforcement is a power tool or a stereo? Why is the inventory of the evidence room managed haphazardly on index cards in a file box as well as in standard police computer programs? If a police officer has possession of a stolen weapon that has been recovered but not returned to its owner, is he or she guilty of receiving stolen property?
    There are written rules, procedures and accreditation guidelines dictating the management of evidence, particularly firearms. This structure was subverted, resulting in wide distribution of weapons that should be under the control of the police department’s evidence room.
    The audit report should have triggered an immediate review by an unbiased, external law enforcement entity and public disclosure of the audit findings, followed by an extensive overhaul of the management and tracking procedures of the evidence room.
    Instead, the city kept the audit under wraps and disclosed the results only after a public documents request, followed by Powell’s assertion that no laws have been broken and that some of the officers involved may not have known that taking weapons and other items from the evidence room for their personal use was prohibited.
    “I don’t want to penalize an officer that is unfamiliar with code and thought it was acceptable practice,” he said.
    As a career lawman, Powell is certainly familiar with a concept of justice with an origin so ancient it has its own Latin phrase: Ignorantia juris non excusat - Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
    If it were, many defendants would go free.


    This story can be found at: http://www.dothaneagle.com/servlet/...EA_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1149188655001
     
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