Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Are All Detroit Police Officers Aware of the Fact That Open Carry is Legal in Michigan?

At the last Detroit Police Board of Commissioners Meeting - held April 21, 2011 at Detroit Police Headquarters - Gun Rights Activist Rick Ector asked two questions for commission members to answer:

  1. Are all Detroit police officers aware of the fact that 'Open Carry' is legal in the state of Michigan?
  2. Does the Detroit Police Department have established procedures to govern police officer conduct when approaching a citizen who is 'Open Carrying' a handgun?

What is the Function of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners?

The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners is a five member civilian oversight panel. The city of Detroit Charter specifies that each member "must" be a resident of Detroit. Additionally, each member is appointed by the Mayor to serve a five year term. The duties of the Board include the following:

  • In consultation with the Chief of Police and with the approval of the Mayor, establish policies, rules, and regulations.
  • Review and approve the departmental budget before its submission to the Mayor.
  • Receive and resolve any complaint concerning the operation of the police department.
  • Act as final authority in imposing or reviewing discipline of employees of the department.
  • Make an annual report to the Mayor, the City Council and the public of the department’s activities during the previous year, including the handling of crime and complaints, and of future plans.

What is 'Open Carry' of a Handgun?

Open carry (OC) is the act of displaying a handgun in a completely visible holster. OC is legal in 44 states in the US, including Michigan. Michigan is currently one of the fastest growing states in terms of OC popularity. As such, the practice will continue to grow both state-wide and in the city of Detroit.

Despite many inaccurate statements made in the media, OC is not legal in Michigan because a new law authorized it. OC is legal in Michigan because it has never been made illegal.

A person, who has his firearms ownership rights intact, can OC if he is at least 18 years of age, has the firearm registered in his name, is on foot, and does not enter a pistol-free zone without permission.

Why Did Rick Ector Ask the Police Commission Two Questions About Open Carry?

On April 18th Rick Ector - Gun Rights Activist and Blog Publisher of "Legally Armed In Detroit" - held an OC dinner at the BluePointe Restaurant.

Over 75 participants attended the dinner, which is widely believed to have been the very first ever dinner within the city of Detroit limits in which the attendees were openly carrying a firearm.

Accordingly, the dinner garnered a lot of attention in the media. The event was covered by, but not limited to, the following news reporting organizations: The Associated Press (AP), Fox News, Fox News Detroit Channel 2, WDIV TV Detroit Channel 4, WXYZ TV Detroit Channel 7, and WWJ Radio Detroit.

Throughout the evening, Ector was approached by several people who wanted to share their negative experiences with the Detroit Police Department while legally Open Carrying a handgun in the city. A common question that was asked of Ector was whether all members of the Detroit Police Department were aware of the legality of Open Carry.

Ector's response was that "All members of the Detroit Police Department should be aware of the legality of Open Carry in both the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit. The Michigan State Police recently published an issue of their "Educational Update (#86)" in which the topic of Open Carry was covered. Since this info gets sent to all law enforcement agencies in the state of Michigan, the Detroit Police Department should be aware of the legality of Open Carry."

Furthermore, Ector stated that he would be attending the next Detroit Police Commission Meeting and would pose this question to the Board to answer during the "Public Comment" section of the meeting.

What Did the Board of Detroit Police Commissioners Say?

Speaking on the behalf of the Commission, Detroit Assistant Police Chief Chester Logan, stated, "The short answer to both questions is yes." However, Logan failed to comment on the "long" answer to both questions.

Logan's answer on the record is significant. It implies that if Detroit police officers trample upon the rights of citizens who elect to Open Carry a handgun, they (i.e. Detroit police officers) do so voluntarily despite being trained on the subject.

Trained police officers who choose to violate the rights of citizens place the city of Detroit in jeopardy of losing a lot money in civil lawsuits. Furthermore, the officers involved also face the prospect of losing their "civil immunity" and being held personally responsible.
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