Willowick to Help Spread Word Open Carry Is Legal
Written by Daniel White
Thursday, 03 July 2008
Bryan received while openly carrying a firearm in the City.
While the discussions were, on the whole, positive and fruitful, we will be continuing to work to try to prevent something like this from happening again elsewhere, and Willowick has indicated they will assist with this goal.
One of the first things to be discussed was the treatment Bryan was subjected to by the police officers on the scene. Chief Lazor reiterated what he had told us before, that Sergeant Turner had a basically clean record with only very minor infractions such as dings in a patrol car.
After reviewing the recording prior to the meeting, the Chief agreed that the Sergeant was in violation of department policy and was given a written reprimand for his behavior on the scene. Sergeant Turner informed us he was under the mistaken impression that open carry was a violation of the terms of a concealed handgun license and he though Bryan was breaking the law at the time. He claimed his treatment of Bryan was uncharacteristic of his typical conduct on the job.
The Chief told us that in addition to sending out a memo to the departmental mailbox of every officer on the force reiterating that open carry is legal, it has also been made part of several daily briefings. The Lieutenant informed us that he has had many one on one conversations with various officers concerning the issue and that open carry was the hot topic of conversation in the department since the incident came to light in our forums.
Chief Lazor said open carry will be made part of the mandatory annual training all Willowick officers receive and may even be integrated into training scenarios. One issue we were not able to agree on, however, was making carry status part of the SOP for dispatchers. Our position was that citizens who call in a "man with a gun call" should be asked if the firearm is in a holster. While we have no objection to a gun call being checked out by an officer, we feel that it is valuable information for the officer to have that he is likely entering a situation where no crime is being committed. For various reasons, the Chief said he would suggest it, but not make it a mandatory part of procedures.
The Chief did acknowledge that word of the incident and the legality of open carry is already spreading through neighboring departments via word of mouth, as well as from this website and our forums.
In an effort to help prevent something like this from happening in a department where officers have not been educated regarding open carry, the chief offered to write a letter to the Attorney General asking for a letter to be sent to all police departments in the State from that office. The Chief's letter will be made available to OFCC.
The Law Director agreed to contact the Lake County prosecutor to request a formal opinion from the Attorney General regarding open carry that can again be used to help educate the law enforcement community.
OFCC will be supplementing these efforts with steps of our own in an attempt to prevent any further misunderstandings between law enforcement and law-abiding citizens exercising their Second Amendment rights. It is our hope that we can turn this negative incident into a positive for gun owners. It has always been our intent to educate instead of vilify, and we acknowledge that the vast majority of law enforcement are on our side. We are primarily interested in ensuring that the legality of open carry is known to all law enforcement officers to protect those who choose to carry in that fashion. After all, we're all on the same side in the end.