The Seattle Police department says they’re ‘embarassed’ after leaving an assault rifle on the trunk of a cruiser. This has become big enough news that MSNBC is covering it. This surprised me because, it’s not as if this is the first time something like this has happened.
Years ago I worked at a place called the Law Enforcement Support Agency or L.E.S.A. I transcribed police reports. (I can’t really imagine a better job for a writer.) L.E.S.A. is located on the second floor of the County-City Building. At lunch, I’d sometimes go next door to the downtown Tacoma McDonalds. Any local will tell you that the people who frequent that McDonalds are among the strangest in the entire city.
One particular afternoon, I walked out of the County-City Building and out on to Tacoma Ave. As I got to the sidewalk, I could tell that something was wrong. I looked around to see the car wreck or the fire or whatever the problem was. After a few moments I realized that most of the people on the street were looking in the same direction. It was then that I saw it; on top of one of the patrol cars, there was a pistol. And there were no police officers that I could see.
Given the variable quality of the people who mill around the County City Building, I made a judgment call and walked towards the cruiser. I approached the car, picked up the pistol and tucked it in my waistband. Now everyone was looking at me.
Ultimately out of all the people on a city street, I’d rather I be the armed one. I walked back to the County-City Building. When I entered, I told the security guard, who I was friends with, that I had a pistol in my waistband.
He said, “Why?”
I said, “Someone left it on top of a patrol car out there.”
He said, “Someone’s in a lot of trouble.” He then instructed me to go to the State Patrol desk and turn in the weapon. I did as I was instructed.
What’s funny about this is that at no time did I think I should contact the media. We’ve all forgotten things when leaving a car. It just so happens that in this case and in the case in Seattle, they were weapons.
It’s unfortunate that it happened. But it’s not a scandal. It’s not some horrible thing. It had the potential for very tragic results. It was just a simple human error and really, while it’s a problem, I wouldn’t call it a big deal.
- Jack Cameron