Friday, November 28, 2008

Vest? Check. TASER? Check. Rifle? Rifle? Oh, no

A Salt Lake County, Utah Sheriff's Department SWAT team member left something of value behind in an uninvolved resident's yard after a standoff situation was successfully resolved the other day:

His loaded M4 rifle.

The article reports that the weapon was found by an honest jogger (Fortunately for the department. By all rights, the finder probably could have legally kept it, assuming it wasn't fully automatic or had a restricted short barrel), hours after the team had left the area.

Yes, a tense incident had just concluded. It's the (unnamed, yet again) officer's job to deal successfully with those types of situations, however, and he was supposedly "highly trained" for such work. Such a lapse is inexcusable for anyone, much less someone like this person, as one of his bosses notes:

"'It's a terrible mistake,' Salt Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Levi Hughes tells the paper. 'For this to happen one time is unacceptable. The public expects more out of us than this. We're going to take every step possible so that this never happens again.'"

His job description notwithstanding, the "veteran" member of the department should receive the same sanctions that an ordinary non-"special person" would be facing if he or she had the same sort of memory lapse. If a non-cop had done the same thing, the criticism from the anti-gun lobby would be withering, and the incident would be cited as yet one more reason why the peasantry can't be trusted with guns. Well, we can play the same game - "Lordy, what if a precious little snowflake had found that rifle and started playing with it?"

See how easy it is to scapegoat an entire community, based on one person's screwup?

This officer should be prosecuted for criminal negligence. At the very least, he should quickly be made an ex-SWAT team member.

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