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Thread: LEO's who claim ignorance of the law -

  1. #1
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    Whenever a person is (illegally) harassed or detained for OC'ing, the defense of the LEOs is always along the lines, "Gosh, I didn't know OC was legal." I have always suspected many LEO's know OC is legal, yet they insist on harassing folks for it anyway. Unfortunately, there's no way to prove this assertion.

    Or is there?

    Here's an idea: before open-carrying in a city or county, send a certified, return receipt letter to the police department or sheriff's office, respectively. The letter should clearly explain the law as it pertains to OC, and should strongly advise the police chief or sheriff to train the LEOs under their command about the law.

    Why send the letter?

    If someone is harassed or detained for open-carrying, the LEO cannot claim he/she didn't know the law. (Unless, of course, the police chief or sheriff didn't educate the LEO, which means the police chief or sheriff is liable.)

    Is this a worthwhile endeavor, in your opinion?

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    Nice idea....

    But the Chief is not likely to beobligated to report to his troops something that is"legal" already....

    That would be like me telling the Chief "I am going to be walking through your town tomorrowand I do not want your officers to mess with me since this is legal. Signed.... John Rambo"

    Now if the Chief stops you and you have your signed receipt.... You can go after the Chief. But I am not sure this is a cure all for all the officers.

    Let's say the officers are told. But you had a few on vacation, away on training, family leave, military leave.... They never got the notice and slipped through the cracks.

    Do you run their butts through the ringer now since you have a signedreceipt showing that the Chief knew?

    Sending some correspondence is an excellent idea with a request to be acknowledged. Something that says you are aware it is legal but in some locations officers were unaware. You want to be sure during your stay that there is no unnecessary altercations due to your legal activity.

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    229:

    Agreed, but I believe it's better than doing nothing at all. At the very least, it will give the police chief or sheriff pause. And such a document can only help (not hurt) the victim in court. But I agree it's not a perfect solution.

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    Ohio Patriot wrote:
    229:

    Agreed, but I believe it's better than doing nothing at all. At the very least, it will give the police chief or sheriff pause. And such a document can only help (not hurt) the victim in court. But I agree it's not a perfect solution.
    I agree with most of your thoughts except holding the Chief responsible.

    I mentioned in the past about sending the CLEO a letter to inform and educate. Nothing wrong with that at all.

    My only issue was, in all fairness, the Chief is not obligated to tell his troops you may do something "legal". However.... if drafted properly.... it would be in thebest interests of the department to be sure the word gets out.

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    Regular Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    I agree with the thought, but in practice, nothing gets their attention like a formal complaint--that is, except filing a lawsuit, after the incident. That's the best way to make them learn the law and respect the rights of citizens.

    As Hitler once said " we must take away the guns to make the streets safe for the SS."
    "For any man who sheds his blood with me this day shall be my brother...And gentlemen now abed shall think themselves accursed, they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speaks who fought with us on Crispin's day." Henry V

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    There is NO need to send any communication to any law enforcement agency advising them what the current interpretation of the law is.

    Law enforcement agencies are required to provide training and education to their employees when a court decision effects the interpretation of law. They may be informed of the need to profide the training and education from any number of sources, including the locality's attorney (whether Commonwealth Attorney/District Attorney), or the lawyer that the locality hires to defend itself when being sued, or the International Chiefs of POlice/Fraternal Order of Police legal department, or the police officers' union - just to name a few possibilities.

    Failure to provide training and education isone basis for a civil rights violation lawsuit (usually under 42 CFR 1983), as well as the possibility of various tort claims under the state law.

    Yes, even if the cop you encounter is truely ignorant of the appropriate interpretation of the law, you can sue him and his agency because the case law expects him to be trained and educated on the law's most current interpretation, and his agency to have provided that training and education.

    I suggest you contact your local LEO's Training Officer and ask them about what would happen if a cop said he was never told about X law. YMMV, but my experience has almost universally been a request for names of officers and a check of their training records. Should one have slipped through and missed that class, they are assigned to attend most ricky-ticky!

    By the way - there is a hint for anybody who gets tangled up with a cop enforcing their own version of the law - check their training records! You may have to be engaged in a lawsuit so you can supeona the information, but obtaining it will be most helpful to you. It will either show he was trained and acted as a rogue cop, or that the department's training was deficient. Either situation is good for you.

    stay safe.

    skidmark
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    I think the OP is trying to avoid the confrontation by making an attempt to make them aware at the highest level and have it passed down.

    Certainly.... each member department should know and hopefully they heard it at one time in training. But as time goes by you can forget what you do not practice on a regular basis. Remembering that this is not a law that is "enforced" as there is no law on OC.

    So I see the feasibility in a gentle reminder that may be passed down to the rank and file.

    It is not every day a cop seeing someone OCing and forgetting something that may.. or may not have been discussed in the academy.... He may do his part to keep the community safe.

    This is often the case when we have the confrontations.

    Asking the training officer on what would happen is pretty mush useless as this does not create awareness. You pose a question, it is answered, life goes on.

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    LEO 229 wrote:
    I think the OP is trying to avoid the confrontation by making an attempt to make them aware at the highest level and have it passed down.

    Certainly.... each member department should know and hopefully they heard it at one time in training. But as time goes by you can forget what you do not practice on a regular basis. Remembering that this is not a law that is "enforced" as there is no law on OC.

    So I see the feasibility in a gentle reminder that may be passed down to the rank and file.

    It is not every day a cop seeing someone OCing and forgetting something that may.. or may not have been discussed in the academy.... He may do his part to keep the community safe.

    This is often the case when we have the confrontations.

    Asking the training officer on what would happen is pretty mush useless as this does not create awareness. You pose a question, it is answered, life goes on.
    I think the real issue is LEO's (as in the NC thread by DreQo) who "know the law" but don't have anything to back it up (and don't consult their statutes to verify their assertions). When confronted by a citizen that knows the statutes they resort to the "bully" methods. Rather than backing down, it could be a bigger issue like culture within the department. How do you really fix that? You can't with a letter... The only thing you can (sadly) do is go after the bad LEO's after the fact, which is bad for the citizen.

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    Sheriff wrote:
    LEO 229 wrote:
    It is not every day a cop seeing someone OCing and forgetting something that may.. or may not have been discussed in the academy....
    You and I agree once more. And for my best example I will use the TV show called "The Academy" again. The instructors catch these kiddies off guard by verbally pop quizzing them out of the blue.An instructor asked a student what the police code was for "officer needs help". When the recruit couldn't answer, the instructor asked him about another code. And another. And another. The kiddie couldn't answer one single police code at all.

    I have never in my life seen such poor quality recruits as seen in this TV show. It's pathetic. It seems like not a single thing is sinking into their heads. How can they be expected to remember that OC is legal when they can't even remember the police code for "officer needs help"?
    Maybe there is hope for you and I after all....


    You do learn a ton of stuff and some people simply cannot retain it all. Some people learn by doing while others can absorb the stuff no problem.

    I am sure that there is not much to say about OC.

    "OK class.. we will discuss gun laws... You can legally open carry in this state. And This is a felony and that is a misdemeanor. and this compounded with that is a felony....."

    They are going to focus on crimes... not what is legal. :?

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    Sheriff wrote:
    But the point is, back in my day and time,I would never enforce the studded snow tire law unless I knew what the law was.

    If you stop somebody on October 16 or April 14 for studded snow tires, you have just screwed up. And ignorance of the law is not your friend.

    The same should be true with guns.

    It's incumbent upon some of these newfangled rookies to research and study the laws they pick and choose to enforce. If they want to enforce studded snow tires or gun rights, they need to read, study and know the laws.
    This I would agree.... I have seen things I suspected where a violation. But.... knowing enough first hand.. I let them go and looked up something I was lacking in knowledge.

    I think the major difference here is this.... Oh my gun! A gun! I cannot take time to look this up and need to stop them!

    I guess it is some conditioning by society and their reaction to hardly ever seeing someone OC.

    Not an excuse... just an opinion.

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    I am not sure about the people you worked with or where they came from.

    I cannot agree with your last post. The cops I know do not "forget" that OC is legal and then use that "forgotten" information just to harass people. We are too busy to go messing with people.

    Either they knew or they did not. I know guys that have been on a while and when the word came down that the OCers were out and about there were a few cops that did not know.

    Keeping in mind.... this was in roll call and had no reason to just "forget" at that moment. I did not personally see anyone OC until last fall !! I have been on the job for 16 years now. Imagine that.... after 16 years I finally see a unicorn! And prior to that I was unaware that OCing was legal in Virginia. Everyone thinks you have to CC if you want to go out armed.

    When you look through the code book... you see all the gun codes. Oddly enough there is NO CODE FOR OCing being legal. So you do not get a constant reminder that a code does not exist.

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    Me personally, I say screw that. If a LEO can't figure out the law, any mistakes will be sorted out in Federal court with a 1983 lawsuit. I PROMISE you after the municipal atty, mayor, and chief of police all become acquainted, everyone will be 100% informed and up to date on the law.

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    Sheriff wrote:
    LEO 229 wrote:
    I have been on the job for 16 years now. Imagine that.... after 16 years I finally see a unicorn! And prior to that I was unaware that OCing was legal in Virginia.
    I certainly hope you are kidding? :shock:

    LEO 229 wrote:
    When you look through the code book... you see all the gun codes. Oddly enough there is NO CODE FOR OCing being legal. So you do not get a constant reminder that a code does not exist.
    You're kidding again, right? :shock:

    The law on open carry most certainly does exist, in black and white. I have imported the beginning of the particular code section --and highlighted the key wording in red below and underlined it.

    ..Snipped
    Gee.. Sorry that no OCer has crossed my path in such a long time. If surly must be MY fault that this had not happened.

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    Sheriff wrote:
    § 18.2-308 allows open carry in Virginia.
    Well, it would be more correct to say there is no law that prohibits open carry, hence it is legal by default. This is how it works in all states that "allow" open carry.

    As they say, if a law doesn't say you can't do something, then you can.


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    LEO 229 wrote:
    .... this was in roll call and had no reason to just "forget" at that moment. I did not personally see anyone OC until last fall !! I have been on the job for 16 years now. Imagine that.... after 16 years I finally see a unicorn! And prior to that I was unaware that OCing was legal in Virginia. Everyone thinks you have to CC if you want to go out armed.

    This then seems to be a leadership problem. There are ~8500 registered, posting eligible OC'rs nationwide on this forum. There are an unknown number of them lurking without being registered. More even, that don't know this site exists.

    It may have taken you 16 years before you've x'd paths with an OC'r, but did you keep it to yourself? After you found out/realized it was not illegal did you discuss it with your peers at FCPD? Does the Sgt at roll call periodically remind the shift about local happenings that are becoming more commonplace, just for them to be aware that they are perfectly legal? If so, why did those 3 FCPD officers allegedly attempt to railroad the traveler from NC? With the monitoring of this site by national, state, and local LEO agencies, how can anyone pretend they don't know?

    I know whenever I am reminded of an unusual situation in my business I am prompted to use that to keep my folks informed, for them to bank as experience for possible future use. It's a responsibility we all have when performing our jobs with others.

    BTW, will you tell us of your first OC encounter in 16 years, please? You indicated you didn't know it was legal until then, so, what happened? Did you use the valuable radio you carry to ask for clarification, or did you learn some other way? (I may have misunderstood your statement "And prior to that I was unaware that OCing was legal in Virginia. ")

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    LEO 229 wrote:
    They are going to focus on crimes... not what is legal. :?
    Well, that's what the law does, right?

    To bring up the Red Shirt Law, they probably aren't taught that it's legal to wear a red shirt, either.
    Why open carry? Because 1911 > 911.

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    Nelson_Muntz wrote:
    LEO 229 wrote:
    .... this was in roll call and had no reason to just "forget" at that moment. I did not personally see anyone OC until last fall !! I have been on the job for 16 years now. Imagine that.... after 16 years I finally see a unicorn! And prior to that I was unaware that OCing was legal in Virginia. Everyone thinks you have to CC if you want to go out armed.
    This then seems to be a leadership problem. There are ~8500 registered, posting eligible OC'rs nationwide on this forum. There are an unknown number of them lurking without being registered. More even, that don't know this site exists.

    It may have taken you 16 years before you've x'd paths with an OC'r, but did you keep it to yourself? After you found out/realized it was not illegal did you discuss it with your peers at FCPD? Does the Sgt at roll call periodically remind the shift about local happenings that are becoming more commonplace, just for them to be aware that they are perfectly legal? If so, why did those 3 FCPD officers allegedly attempt to railroad the traveler from NC? With the monitoring of this site by national, state, and local LEO agencies, how can anyone pretend they don't know?

    I know whenever I am reminded of an unusual situation in my business I am prompted to use that to keep my folks informed, for them to bank as experience for possible future use. It's a responsibility we all have when performing our jobs with others.

    BTW, will you tell us of your first OC encounter in 16 years, please? You indicated you didn't know it was legal until then, so, what happened? Did you use the valuable radio you carry to ask for clarification, or did you learn some other way? (I may have misunderstood your statement "And prior to that I was unaware that OCing was legal in Virginia. ")
    I do not speak for the FCPD but my agency does periodically remind others it is allowed and that OCers are having events in the area. Not said in a bad way.. just a educational reminder.

    Back in 2006 we were all told about OCers in the area and there was no law against it. It was in 2007 I observed an old timer packing a wheel gun and we spoke about his gun. I had no reason to suspect he was doing anything wrong so the only thing I asked him for was...

    "Why do you carry such a tiny gun?"

    He gave me some funny stores. We had a good time. He was actually traveling through the state and stopped to get something to eat.

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    Sheriff wrote:
    LEO 229 wrote:
    Gee.. Sorry that no OCer has crossed my path in such a long time. It surely must be MY fault that this had not happened.
    You don't need to come across an OCer or a CCer to realize that § 18.2-308 allows open carry in Virginia. You said there was no such law on the books sayingopen carry is legal.

    You have been educated.
    You are the first... that I know of here.. to point that out. It does not expressly ALLOW it.... it only says what cannot be concealed. One could deduce or infer that because it is written one way... the opposite must be permitted.

    But if you tried to apply this logic and openly carry at a school you would be in trouble. Even the state police do not show you this as an example of a law that permits open carry.

    This is a good observation on your part but IMHO the use is flawed as you cannot apply the code in the manner you suggest. :P

    What I/we were talking about was there is no VA Code written specifically that PROHIBITS the open carry of a firearm in public.

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    AbNo wrote:
    LEO 229 wrote:
    They are going to focus on crimes... not what is legal. :?
    Well, that's what the law does, right?

    To bring up the Red Shirt Law, they probably aren't taught that it's legal to wear a red shirt, either.
    Exactly.... The state is not in the habit of making a code for something that is permitted. Now this could happen is there was also something in the same code that said what was not allowed unless...

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    LEO 229 wrote:
    It was in 2007 I observed an old timer packing a wheel gun and we spoke about his gun. I had no reason to suspect he was doing anything wrong so the only thing I asked him for was...

    "Why do you carry such a tiny gun?"

    He gave me some funny stores. We had a good time. He was actually traveling through the state and stopped to get something to eat.
    Glad to hear you didn't go off on the man.

    Disturbed to hear you had a size issue with another man's piece. :shock:

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    Sheriff wrote:
    In the absence of a specific law banning OC, 18.2-308most certainly does expressly allow OC. Simply because it says you can't carry a gun "hidden from common observation". If open carry was a crime, 18.2-308 would not need to say "hidden from common observation".


    There is a specific code section that bans weapons on school property....

    § 18.2-308.1 -- Possession of firearm, stun weapon, or other weapon on school property prohibited.


    What?
    I beg to differ.... my example was provided and OBVIOUSLY... I know there is a code regarding schools and this is WHY I mentioned it. Try not to be so bull headed.

    The state police have a web site where they advise you can open carry but do not identify a statute that covers it. They only advise "except where prohibited by statute." They then go into concealed carry and reference that code section in regards to concealed carry only.

    The problem with your use of the code it is only talks about what is prohibited from concealed carry. Once again... it does not mean you CAN possess the listed itemsif carried openly. You are trying to read into a code prohibiting an act andhave it give you permission if you do the opposite.

    This code simply was NOT intended to "grant permission" to do something just because it is the opposite of being prohibited. The only thing you are supposed to get from thatcode is that you cannot conceal the items listed. Period!

    Once again I applaud you on your effort. But you are wrong. I am really surprised that you would read a code like this after 30 years of service. You should know better.

    Prime example.... You cannot carry a switchblade concealed, right?? Then this means you CAN carry one openly under your logic.

    But.... you are prohibited from even having one in your possession. Same goes for black jacks, brass knuckles, nunchucks, and throwing stars.So it is impossible to read that you have permission. If that was the case.. it would say so and add that exception clause so the reader would look for more prohibiting codes like the one below.



    [line]


    § 18.2-311. Prohibiting the selling or having in possession blackjacks, etc.

    If any person

    sells or barters, or exhibits for sale or for barter, or gives or furnishes, or causes to be sold, bartered, given or furnished, or has in his possession, or under his control, with the intent of selling, bartering, giving or furnishing,

    any blackjack, brass or metal knucks, any disc of whatever configuration having at least two points or pointed blades which is designed to be thrown or propelled and which may be known as a throwing star or oriental dart, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, or like weapons,

    such person shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.

    The having in one's possession of any such weapon shall be prima facie evidence, except in the case of a conservator of the peace, of his intent to sell, barter, give or furnish the same.



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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you're both saying the same thing...

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    Ohio Patriot wrote:
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you're both saying the same thing...
    actually, Sheriff is saying that if there is no law against something (open carry, for instance), then by default it is legal, while I believe that LEO is trying to counter by saying that some things are illegal without expressly having a law against them.

    I may be wrong, but...

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    unreconstructed1 wrote:
    Ohio Patriot wrote:
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you're both saying the same thing...
    actually, Sheriff is saying that if there is no law against something (open carry, for instance), then by default it is legal, while I believe that LEO is trying to counter by saying that some things are illegal without expressly having a law against them.

    I may be wrong, but...
    No.. Sheriff claims the state wrote a law that identifies something is legal to do by way of saying... it is if the opposite is illegal. This isnonsense.

    By default.... you can openly carry because there is no law prohibiting it.

    Just like you can wear a red shirt. If there is a law that says you cannot wear a blue shirt in no way does this mean you can wear a read shirt. It only means you cannot wear the blue shirt.

    By default..... you can wear the red shirt unless there is another law that prohibits the wearing of... red shirts.

    He is attempting to use the concealed carry law to show open carry is legal.

    Nice try... but it does not work. That code section has several other weapons that you cannot openly carry. So his "the opposite must be legal" challenge fails.

    He is desperately trying to save face as he boasts about his 30 years as a LEO.

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