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Thread: Interesting email from the Mayor

  1. #1
    State Researcher
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    Aug 2007
    Olympia, WA, ,

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    EDIT: My responses are in italics.
    Lt. Wilson copied his email to the mayor, all of the OPD, the city manager, and the city council. Well and good. I get an email from Mayor Foutch reading simply "Good grief. Thanks Bill." I replied to that, and also finally was able to address individual points of Lt. Wilson's email. It is posted below.

    Mr. Foutch, can you please tell me what you mean by "Good grief."? I am a law abiding citizen who was legally carrying a legal weapon in a peaceful manner. My activities are protected by state law, the state constitution and the state courts. Washington state also has complete pre emption over firearms laws, wisely ensuring uniform standards throughout the state.

    Your officers are dangerously uninformed when they take these calls, which is placing myself and others at risk. I do not appreciate having officers threaten me with weapons, nor lecture me on perfectly legal behavior. This is a rather disturbing chain of events. I expect that the officer in question will claim that his partner did not have a weapon drawn, nor that he made any statements to that effect.

    I am going to clarify my response to Lt. Wilson's email. They will be the black text inserted below his statements.

    Mark Foutch <> wrote:
    Message Good grief. Thanks, Bill. Mark
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Bill Wilson
    Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2007 11:11 AM
    To: 'Steve'
    Cc: OPD All Employees; Steve Hall; Mark Foutch
    Subject: RE: Today's stop

    Mr. Coffman, Thank you for coming in yesterday to "vent" about your contact with our officers.
    I was not coming in to "vent" I was disturbed and angry at a stop and wanted to make a formal complaint.
    I would like to set a few things straight and to assure you that you are not being singled out nor are we somehow going to damage your property or give you a valid reason for a law suit. Our officers are aware and have been trained recently about the Open Carry issue and your Constitutional right to bear arms.
    It shows, when Officer O'Neil will stand there and give me choices that infringe upon that right. Clearly more training is in order. No other city has these kind of issues.
    Our community, including our police force, is not and probably never will be at ease with people walking around with a gun or any other instrument capable of inflicting deadly force.You are right in your opinion that mere calling 911 to report a person openly carrying a weapon does not, in and of itself, meet the legal thresholds for violations of RCWs 9.41.270 or 9.41.300. This has been ruled upon by our State Supreme Court and other courts around the country.
    So the OPD is not comfortable with people exercising their constitutional rights and civil liberties? This is exactly why there is state preemption of firearms laws. This has got to be one of the most disturbing statements I have ever seen from law enforcement. What other constitutionally protected liberties are the OPD uncomfortable with?
    State law is clear about where a person's right to possess or have control over a weapon is prohibited. It is also clear about a jurisdiction's right to limit access to public facilities: RCW 9.41.300 reads in part . . .

    (1)It is unlawful for any person to enter the following places when he or she knowingly possesses or knowingly has under his or her control a weapon:

    (a). . . restricted access areas of a jail or of a law enforcement facility
    (b). . . areas of any building which are used in conjunction with court proceedings…
    (c). . . restricted access areas of a public mental health facility…
    (d). . . portions of an establishment classified by the state liquor control board as off-limits topersons undertwenty- oneyears of age…
    (e). . . restricted areas of a commercial service airport…

    (2) Cities, towns, counties, and other municipalities may enact laws and ordinances:

    (a)Restricting the discharge of firearms in any portion of their respective jurisdictions where there is a reasonable likelihood that humans, domestic animals or property will be jeopardized. Such laws and ordinances shall not abridge the right of the individual guaranteed by Article 1, section 24 of the state Constitution to bear arms in defense of self or others…
    (b)Restricting the possession of firearms in any stadium or convention center, operated by a city, town, county, or other municipality, exceptions noted.

    State law is also clearwhen a violationoccurs:

    RCW 9.41.270 reads in part . . .

    (1) It shall be unlawful for any person to carry, exhibit, display, or draw any firearm, dagger, sword, knife or other cutting or stabbing instrument, club, or any other weapon apparently capable of producing bodily harm, in a manner, under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.

    State law is also clear about school campuses:
    RCW 9.41.280 reads in part . . .

    (1) It is unlawful for a person to carry onto, or to possess on, public or private elementary or secondary school premises, school-provided transportation, or areas of facilities while being used exclusively by public or private schools:

    You know of course that our officers have to investigate all circumstances, each and every time, to determine if a violation of any oftheseRCWs has occurred.
    Of course. You described to me what you thought an ideal stop would be. This was far from it.
    We received two calls yesterday about a man carrying an automatic pistol on his hip. The complaints were not specific as to what you were doing other than you were in the process of walking downtown. As you know we check out this type of complaint quickly since it involvespotentially adeadly weapon and thelikelihood that the individual carrying the weapon may want to do harm to others.
    Your dispatchers are not trained to ask probing questions? This is alarming.
    As I explained beforeofficers have a right to protect themselves and that is their first priority as they approach any situation. Our mission is to protect life, property and individual rights. I'm sure you can agree with me that our mission is in line with what a reasonable person would expect from their police force. Our officers cannot protect others without first arriving safely at the incident scene, evaluating the circumstances with the minimal facts known to them at the time, and making sure any weapons that you may have on you are rendered safe at least for the brief time the officers are in your presence.
    Strangely enough my weapon was not taken until I told Officer O'Neil to place it in my backpack, as I would not conceal on his orders. I chose this way out to avoid confrontation. I am under no legal obligation to conceal, nor can the OPD order me to carry my weapon in a particular manner. I think even the threat of having a weapon drawn on me (and why have my questions of if this happened or not been answered?) was inappropriate. You also agreed with me that Officer O'Neil lecturing me on the ills of open carry was inappropriate. This stop was nothing at all like the first time. What changed? I was standing at a light drinking tea.
    Our officers will conduct themselves professionally and treat you with respect. Our officers should not engage you in a philosophical debate about the merits of Open Carry or your rights as a citizen to own or carry arms. Officers should not coerce you into carrying your weapon concealed or trying to get you to change your behavior so long as it is legal behavior. You will likely get our officers discussing your behavior which may have lead to people calling 911. We expect them to do this.
    I don't mind discussing behavior. I do mind having to justify it, and be given choices that limit my legal actions. I have recounted to you the very low key encounters I have had with Seattle PD while open carrying. One time two officers approached me, "How are you doing sir?" , etc... low key conversation, we both went about our respective ways. Other times I have walked by Officers and they observed my weapon and said nothing. I remind you of your "ideal stop"
    I understand that you may have engaged in a discussion about the legalities of Open Carry. I strongly urge you not to do this.
    Sometimes it is hard to separate the issues when being questioned about behavior. In the future, I will simply ask if I am breaking any laws, and when will I be free to go, or a similar low key approach.
    My reasoning is simple; when you or the officers engage in a debate people on either side of the issue tend not to listen and therefore the debate is not productive nor satisfying to either party.
    Agreed. I am a salesman and know how this works :-)
    I also urge you to avoid staging any "test" or "scenario" that might further your nationwide efforts to engage the police on the Open Carry issue. Having read your website and many others I believe that is one of your missions to "educate" the police about Open Carry. In my opinion that is unnecessary.
    I have no desire to "test" the OPD, or any other agency. Myself and others simply engage in legal behavior and go about our business. This is a growing movement nationwide as you can see on I am but a small part of it.
    Mr. Coffman, I want to urge you and others who carry weapons openly to be very careful in the way you conduct your personal actions especially while you interact with others. People whoopenly carry weapons are not immune to human frailties of arguments, disputes, victimization, etc., etc.
    All people are subject to these frailties. David Brame in Tacoma comes to mind...
    I am only stating this because I worry about you inadvertently placing yourself in danger of being shot. Please, if you notice the police in your proximity, especially if you see them approaching you, stop and keep yourhands in plain sight. Obey every command they maygive you.
    I have never failed to maintain a safe attitude, keep my hands high up and visible and have always obeyed commands given. Officer O'Neil placed me in the uncomfortable position (especially given his claim that a weapon was drawn) to have choices. Cover up or have my weapon taken. This I'm sure you will agree is not the sort of "showdown" an officer should encourage. Some may take your statement about being shot as a veiled threat. I do not, but the wording is unnerving and makes me worry about my own safety.
    We realize that people such as yourself haveintervened to prevent people from being seriously wounded or killed at the hands of suicidal or homicidal people. This week's Colorado church shooting is a great example of it. Thank you for not entering the police lobby the other day which might have subjected our staff to unnecessary alarm. I'll let you know if it would be appropriate at a future time to have you meet with our officers. I'm not sure it would be productive or desired from our officers' point of view.
    I have always considered the bearing of arms to be one of the highest rights and responsibilities of a citizen. I would also not hesitate to offer aid to any authority who would require it. The signage in your lobby is confusing, but I would of course respect that. Any dispute about wording and verbage is best left to the courts or internal decisions. I see no reason to every cause problems by something as petty as this. I trust safe weapons storage as per state law will be available should it be required.
    If you have questions or just want to talk please give me a call.
    I believe I have asked those questions here in my more detailed response. As I may have mentioned I have had a pretty difficult couple of days, between being a passenger in a three car accident, and this disturbing stop.... It is not my desire to cause confrontation with the OPD, but some serious issues were raised in this last stop, which as far as I can tell are unique to the open carry issue in this state. I posted a link to the conversation online as a courtesy. Views expressed therein that are not under my user name are of course not my own, and I may not be in agreement with them. A lot of people are angry, but this will subside. As a group, we are a pretty diverse lot. Military, former law enforcement, combat vets, grad students, programmers, and other professionals. Myself, I am an authorized sales agent for The Olympian. Aside from a desire to openly bear arms, as was common practice before in this country, we are unified in a desire for law and order. Knowing this is a dangerous world, and if I may use a tired phrase "When seconds count, help is only minutes away" we choose to be proactive in our defense. Legally armed citizens are some of the most responsible people in this nation, and use those arms countless times daily to defend themselves and others. The reaction I got from Officer O'Neil was not what I have come to expect from the OPD. I sincerely hope we can address the issues that were raised here and move on. I will not stop carrying my weapon in a legal fashion as I see fit. I hope that efforts can be made to ensure better dispatch practices that place more information in the hands of officers. I look forward to any future meetings.

  2. #2
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    Sep 2007
    Arlington, Washington, USA

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    Good grief. Thanks, sv_libertarian. nofoa

  3. #3
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    Bellingham, ,

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  4. #4
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    Dec 2006
    Everett, Washington, USA

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    LOL gotta love the reply all function.
    "A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity."

    "though I walk through the valley in the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for I know that you are by my side" Glock 23:40

  5. #5
    Regular Member just_a_car's Avatar
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    May 2007
    Auburn, Washington, USA

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    joeroket wrote:
    LOL gotta love the reply all function.
    ...and the misuse thereof. *snicker*
    B.S. Chemistry UofWA '09

  6. #6
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    Oct 2007
    Monroe, Washington, USA

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    Cc: OPD All Employees; Steve Hall; Mark Foutch

    I'm not sure if this reeks of conspiracy, or if it just reeks.

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