CCW: A license to be handcuffed and disarmed

Charlie Mitchener, the Las Vegas business owner who was handcuffed and disarmed after presenting a concealed weapons permit along with his drivers license to a police officer responding to a burglary call at his place of business Jan. 3 (see my column of Jan. 10), has provided me with his Jan. 19 follow-up letter to the Metro Police Department.

Mr. Mitchener says he decided to write lest his “silence may put someone else at risk. …

“Shortly before 5 a.m. Jan 3, the alarms in my office sounded and notified TSI, our security provider, that a break-in had occurred,” Charlie Mitchener writes. “They … dispatched a security guard.

“My wife, Peggy, and I arrived at the office about 5:15 a.m.; the security officer had arrived just before us. … The security officer informed us that he had called Metro and they told him not to enter the building. …

“The security officer said ‘I don’t want to tell you what to do, but I’m familiar with situations where the bad guys will come busting out and your vehicle may provide them cover, so I suggest you move it away from the building.’”

The Mitcheners moved their vehicle.

“Approximately 5:30 a.m. the Metro officer arrived. My wife and I … were still in the vehicle which was marked with the name of my company identically to how it is marked on the entrance door. … The officer exited her vehicle, the four of us walked to the broken window; the security officer identified himself, and introduced me to officer Rogers. She informed us that she had called for backup to clear the office. The officer asked, in the meantime, for my identification. (Please note she never asked for my wife’s identification or an introduction.) …”

Mr. Mitchener handed over his drivers license and a concealed carry permit.

“Officer Rogers immediately asked if I had a weapon on me to which I replied yes. She asked me to turn around, spread my legs and place my hands behind my back, to which I complied. As she attempted to handcuff me, she said that she was doing this because she ‘wanted everyone to be safe.’

“At this time, we are standing approximately 30 feet (away), with our backs to the place where the office was broken into,” from which the security guard had warned them “bad guys could burst out firing weapons.”

“My thought at the time, beyond what a surreal event this was, was what a foolish place to handcuff me. I wondered, and still wonder, how on earth is everyone safe. My conclusion is that officer Rogers … did not give a damn about my life; she was willing to sacrifice me,” Mr. Mitchener’s Jan. 19 letter to Metro continues.

“Twice, officer Rogers asked me to bend at the knees … (my arms were already extended downward, and my legs were spread), because she could not reach high enough to put the handcuffs on. Peggy noted that officer Rogers was having real difficulty working the handcuffs and fumbled about. Thank God for officer Rogers’ sake I was a law-abiding citizen, because otherwise the handcuffing would not have occurred.

“After the handcuffing experience, it was time for the trained officer to disarm me. … I feel Officer Rogers begin to grab my weapon by the handle grip. I am wearing an excellent inside-the-waistband holster secured to an operator’s belt. Incidentally, in addition to an IWB holster, I am wearing … a longer than normal sweatshirt concealing my weapon. I am 100 percent confident that had I not volunteered my CCW, my weapon would never have been exposed.

“As I feel officer Rogers on the handle of my weapon, I tell her not to remove the weapon in that manner because it is ‘ready to go.’ In other words, there is a round chambered. … I told her to remove the holster with the weapon in it so that the trigger was not exposed; I was concerned that the officer did not know what she was doing. …

“Thankfully the officer listened to me; unfortunately she then had difficulty figuring out how to remove the holster. …

“Seeing that the officer was struggling to remove the holster and weapon, my wife, Peggy, volunteered to help. Remember, officer Rogers had never asked who Peggy was, what she was doing there or if she had a weapon. … It is one of those situations that, if it were not so serious, we would fall on our face laughing.

“The weapon, with the assistance of Peggy … is removed and taken by the officer Rogers to her patrol car. She returns and removes the handcuffs. … The two officers clear the office and the backup officer leaves. … A CSI officer arrives and very professionally begins looking for fingerprints, etc. …

“Officer Rogers sees Peggy and gives her my driver’s license and CCW card. I would think that the correct protocol would be to hand me directly my license and CCW. But at this point, why should we think that anything would be done correctly or professionally? Officer Rogers also informs me that she has secretly placed my weapon in the second drawer on the left side of the receptionist desk. …”

It would be hard to come up with a better test case to demonstrate the absurdity of any one-size-fits-all police doctrine that “Everybody out there is presumed to be a ‘bad guy’ till proven otherwise” — or of the inappropriateness of placing on patrol duty women so small they have trouble handcuffing even a cooperating “suspect,” and who feel threatened by calm, law-abiding citizens whose only offense is to be “tall.” Why wasn’t the armed security guard “ID’d,” handcuffed, and disarmed? Couldn’t a “bad guy” steal a security guard uniform?

Many readers have asked the obvious questions:

Metro backs up the officer, saying she has “discretion” to do what she did. Given that this is the way a law-abiding citizen can now expect to be treated in this clear-cut a situation, after “doing everything right,” should we “call in” such crimes to police, at all?

And if you DO find yourself dealing with a police officer, might it not be wiser NOT to mention you have a permit or a weapon, as many readers have suggested? Officer Rogers never patted down or handcuffed or demanded the ID of Mr. Mitchener’s wife or of the security guard.

Sheriff Doug Gillespie called me back Wednesday.

“It’s not standard procedure, Vin. A young officer went out on that particular call, we’ve taken a look at it and her captain has spoken to her and they’re dealing with it from a training standpoint,” the sheriff said. “But our officers also have discretion.”

“For it to be thought that our policy is that every time we encounter someone with a CCW we disarm you and handcuff you, there’s many people that that doesn’t happen to. …

“I had concerns when I read your (Jan. 10) article, Vin. My direction was take a look at it. … Your questions are valid; I’m not going to say that they’re not. … As far as a written reprimand, no, but they’re dealing with it through a training component. …

“There’s not a change, Vin. … There’s no policy here that’s that what we do, that if you tell Officer Doug Gillespie that you have a CCW that I immediately put you in handcuffs and disarm you. You can’t policy-ize everything so everybody does everything exactly the same.”

21 Comments to “CCW: A license to be handcuffed and disarmed”

  1. Rob Says:

    Gee, Vin. Did you really think law enforcement would admit to their
    mistake? I, for one, am tired of hearing the excuses gushing forth from the bunker mentalicists when the truth is some of these people have no business being in law enforcement except in the name of political correctness!

  2. a Duoist Says:

    Wasn’t it in the officer’s interest to have a law-abiding, armed citizen nearby while the officer risked a search of the building? And if it was in her interest to have law-abiding citizens on her side, why disarm her potential benefactors?

    It comes down to a matter of judgment; perhaps this judgment-challenged officer should be removed from any interaction with the public while she is ‘serving’ the public.

  3. Roger.45 Says:

    It appears that CCW permitees are victims of “police officer discretion”. I wondering if this is the price CCW holders have to pay to some local law enforcement agencies that may oppose CCW.

    In Louisiana, a CHP holder must inform an officer, when approached, that he/she is in possession of a concealed handgun. Taken directly from the Louisiana State Police website:

    Duties of Permittees

    The permit shall be retained by the permittee who shall immediately produce it upon the request of any law enforcement officer. Anyone who fails to do so shall be fined not more than one hundred dollars. Additionally, when any peace officer approaches a permittee in an official manner or with an identified purpose, the permittee shall:

    1. Notify the officer that he has a weapon on his person;
    2. Submit to a pat down;
    3. Allow the officer to temporarily disarm him.

    Under Louisiana’s reciprocity agreement – with many CCW states – a licensed CCW holder is bound by the laws of the state in which one is carrying their concealed handgun. Anyone carrying to a state with reciprocity should, without fail, review that state’s laws!

  4. R Says:

    Officer Rogers acted as a complete ass, and her foolish actions have brought disgrace on herself, her department, the public each is duty bound to serve, and the moral basis of intrinsically just law. I would not want her guarding a mere melon stand in my community.

  5. T Says:

    As a cop, whenever anyone presents me with a CCW permit with the driver’s license, I immediately ask if they’re armed. If the answer is yes, I ask where it is and call for “routine” backup . If it is on their person, I ask them where it is, immediately take custody of it, secure it, and pat him down while he is in a free standing position (not against a wall or vehicle, etc. because it gives him two more balance points with his hands from which to attack from if the encounter goes “south”–it’s easier to knock someone who is attacking to the ground when they’re not well-balanced) and if it is a female, I remove the gun/weapon and have a female officer conduct a search to eliminate the possibility more while taking consideration for privacy of the female by not staring at the pat down process and redirecting the public attention during the process so as not to totally embarras the female. I then conduct a nationwide stolen/wanted check of the gun/weapon. I do not handcuff someone who is doing only what they’ve been taught to do in the CCW class UNLESS he/she has given me reason to do so.

    As far as this situation is concerned, based on the letter, I have no doubt this is a rookie officer… however, if she is a veteran, then there are some SERIOUS training issues at that department. In regards to the this type of call and as a “Monday-morning quarteback” she should have gotten the id of everyone at the scene. Once he gave her his license and CCW, she became “tunnel-vision” fixed on that fact and forgot about why she was there. If anyone had come out of there with guns blazing, the only one that would have had a chance would have been the security guard and maybe Mitchener, if he is fast enough drawing his gun. Fortunately, as is the case most of the time, the criminals were already gone.

    Does Ofc Rogers need time off? No, that is not necessary. The letter, and a week of remedial training with a Field Training Officer will be sufficient. This is an unfortunate incident for Mitchener and Ofc Rogers, but not an incident that requires siginificant punishment for Rogers or compensation for Mitchener. A simple vis-a-vis apology to Mitchener and retraining for Rogers will be plenty to put it all behind them.

  6. Vin Suprynowicz Says:

    So there we have it: a police officer declaring that a “permit” to carry a concealed weapon — acquired at considerable exasperating trouble and expense in passing (and paying for) a detailed criminal background check ON OURSELVES, registering the specific weapons we intend to carry, demonstrating our ability to use them safely and effectively, often passing a written test on the law as it applies to carrying, brandishing, or using a weapon, etc. — is NOT a permit to keep and bear a concealed weapon, but rather a “red flag” advising the police officer to promptly disarm us immediately upon realizing we’re exercising this God-given and Constitutionally-protected right, even when — by his own admission — the law-abiding citizen in question “has not given me reason to handcuff (him).”

    (“I immediately ask if they’re armed. If the answer is yes, I ask where it is and call for ‘routine’ backup. If it is on their person, I ask them where it is, immediately take custody of it, secure it, and pat him down while he is in a free standing position (not against a wall or vehicle, etc. because it gives him two more balance points with his hands from which to attack …”)

    Since no constitution gives the police officer any more right or power to carry a weapon than it gives any other citizen (the U.S. Constitution contemplated no “police officers,” specifically barring any standing army from being kept in our midst), one has to ask what the police officer’s response would be if I stated “As a taxpayer and employer of cops, whenever I confront one of my police employees and I see that he or she is armed, I immediately take custody of his or her sidearm, secure it, and pat him down while he is in a free standing position (not against a wall or vehicle, etc. because it gives him two more balance points with his hands from which to attack from if the encounter goes ‘south’ …)

    I believe we all know what the typical police officer would do if you or I tried to enforce such a policy. They would quite literally kill us, without a moment’s remorse.

    The question is, why would they then be surprised if “average citizens” began acting precisely the same way, upon being threatened with the loss of the only means of defense we retain against police tyranny?

    If they consider us the enemy, why should we continue to pay them, or even allow them in our midst?

    Because men in uniform “are always the good guys”?

    Armed minorities have massacred disarmed minorities who had them far outnumbered, over and over again in the past century — just check the Web site of Jews for the preservation of Firearms Ownership. But it’s ALWAYS based on the bluff that “You DO want to demonstrate you intend to be peaceful and law-abiding by surrendering your weapons on demand, don’t you?”

    But I guess we shouldn’t worry,. It can all be handled if the Turks will just offer the dead Christian Armenians “a simple apology,” if the Nazis will merely offer the dead Jews “a simple apology,” if Stalin’s Commies will simple offer all those dead Ukrainians “a simple apology.” If Pol Pot’s Paris-educated thugs …

    I mean, SURELY they and their children would have been spared, right up to the last minute, if they’d just said, ‘Hey, wait. I want a do-over. I’m sorry I turned in my weapons now; can I have them back now?”

    — V.S.

  7. bluelight scout Says:

    As a citizen, whenever I get asked questions by someone who thinks they have authority over me concerning any weapons that I may or may not have, I lie to them, I’ve found its easier to just not mention it or to deny it if asked by police ,I dont like being treated like a criminal for doing nothing wrong, if I am going to be treated as a criminal i might as well act like a criminal and hide it, for instance, I cross hoover dam regularly and occasionally have to pull over so they can search my truck, I usually carry a few thousand rounds when i go to the az desert for various reasons along with a varitey of my favorite weapons, I always wind up arguing with the police at the hoover dam check point, they claiming that I have an excessive amount of ammo and I claiming that its not and will shoot most of it on the weekend, I’ve told them that theres no such law in AZ or NV and they cant just make up laws, then they ask if I have weapons for the ammo, then a whole new can of worms is opened, now I hide everything, smile and say no sir, no weapons or ammo in here and go on my merry way. Treat me like a criminal and I’ll act like a criminal : )

  8. Durk Pearson Says:

    End sovereign immunity. It is derived from the Divine Rights of Kings – which we fought a revolution to escape.

    But without sovereign immunity would anyone be willing to become a cop? Maybe not – but armed security guards don’t have sovereign immunity and they work just fine for me. They don’t handcuff people for having a CCW, either.

  9. jharry3 Says:

    I recently learned about the Garrity rule or Garrity warning .
    Its based upon a court decision which basically says that cops must tell all the facts of a case even if they incriminate him and can be fired if he does not.
    But the Garrity ruling says that if the cop tells all the facts he cannot be held criminally responsible if the facts would incriminate him.
    Garrity is an invocation that may be made by an officer being questioned regarding actions that may result in criminal prosecution.

    In these days of cops joking that if they kill someone they get a two week paid vacation me now knowing about this rule sheds a whole new light on why cops always seem to get off from the crimes they commit.

  10. Robert W. Collins Says:

    Dear sir:

    As a retired police officer I enjoyed reading the article about what happened to Mr. Mitchener. To say what took place was a commedy of errors would be an understatement. The actions of the female police officer were way out of line and to me she should never be allowed to be OUT ON THE ROAD by herself ever again! Anyone can see she is unable to handle situations by herself and to me she would not even be able to offer a decent backup should a dangerous situation arise. Frankly she would be a danger to the other police officers around her. It is a classic example of a small woman thinking she can do the job more suited to a man. I guess that fifty to sixty years ago the public respected the police uniform and were somewhat afraid of the uniform but those times are long gone. Makes me think of the show COPS on TV. Recently I saw a show where a woman was trying to handcuff a large black man and with one arm he just threw her on her backside and ran away and she could do nothing about it. Other times when police officers are trying to hold down a man who is fighting, the female officer at the scene is completely useless in controlling the situation. The female officer involved with Mr. Mitchener should be assigned to a desk job in the police station or be in a Two-Person car and not be placed in a dangerous situation other than being called to the scene to pat down and search a female prisoner. It sounded like she is very ignorant about firearms and actually is afraid of them. I know if I needed help to control a fighting suspect I would NOT want a female police officer to respond to the scene as I would wind up trying to protect her from being injured. Such is life when a woman thinks they can do the job as good as a man. Yes, I know there are exceptions but they are in the minority.

  11. Flavio Gomez Says:

    Does merely posessing a concealed carry permit constitute probable cause to justify search and seizure? I think not. In the case of CCW especially, it’s shocking how many state governments and police officers trample on constitutional rights, and how many sheep just bend over and take it. Fortunately in a few states, or maybe just in Oklahoma, it’s still nobody’s business where my pistol is.

  12. Karl Grossman Says:

    My wife is a retired LEO. She is a bad ass, stocky little brunette, who can take down most men down to the ground. She is a skilled gunfighter. She staffed a one woman substation in the worst part of town. She was a street cop, not a desk jockey, and the local thugs were terrified of her. She was also very good at dealing with the mentally ill, and talked several deranged people into handcuffs over the years. She had the respect of all her brother officers, and any one of them would have been glad to see her roll up in a bad situation. Under similar circumstances Mr. Mitchener, my baby would probably have disarmed you too. She would have done a quicker, safer job of it though. I don’t care about your hurt feelings. All I cared about was that she did whatever she needed to do to make it home after every shift.

  13. Karl Grossman Says:

    Dear bluelight scout. You ARE a criminal. Making a false statement to a cop IS a crime. I can’t abide a liar. Man up dude. You’re not breaking the law carrying guns and ammo for target shooting. When you lie, and get caught one day, and go to jail. Then the papers print up the story about another “gunnut”, and all lawful, armed citizens get another black eye. Yeah, like we need that.

  14. Jeff045 Says:

    I am a retired LEO and what happened to this law abiding citizen was an illegal arrest and the gentleman should file a federal civil rights violation law suit against this officer, the Sheriff, the agency, and the county itself. When an officer puts handcuffs on an individual the individual has had his/her freedom taken away buy the government and has in fact been arrested. Officer safety is not a license to violate an individuals rights. It is not the fault of the law abiding citizen that small females are being sent out alone to answer such calls. If that were not bad enough as in this situation, the officers are also being sent out untrained. LEO’s cannot unarrest someone. While there are many the police may encounter that are happy to be uncuffed and let go, the law abiding must stop tolerating this illegal behavior. It has been going on so long it has become accepted. You have the right to be secure in your person and effects. Use it!! By “use it” I mean through the court system.

  15. Ned Says:

    This is a perfect illustration of why NOT to dial 911. It’s clear there’s an “us vs. them” attitude which pervades many police departments.

    If I come home to a burglary, I will take the chance of clearing the house myself, instead of being disarmed and cuffed and left as a target for whichever miscreant chooses to shoot at me.

    If I call the police because my property has been burgled, I’m probably not the criminal. But because of the us vs. them mentality, I’m in the same category with the criminal as far as the LEO is concerned.

    Dial 911? No thanks.

  16. straightarrow Says:

    Karl and T, you are both enemies of freedom. It is really that simple. You know what you two thugs, the rest of us just want to go home at the end of the day too. Your right nor you wife’s right to do so does not negate anyone else’s right to do so. If you become the opposition do not be surprised if you are treated as such.

    I value no man or woman enough to allow them to harm me, humiliate me, deny my citizenship, or strip me of my rights as a human and an American. I will resist them.

    As for Karl’s statement “I can’t abide a liar. Man up dude. You’re not breaking the law carrying guns and ammo for target shooting.”

    Really????? You can’t abide a liar, but you can abide a criminal cop making up law on the spot? You can abide a cop who violates his oath to the law and the constitution, but you can’t abide a man who doesn’t help them abuse him while they break their oaths and the law?

    You sir, are not the moral guidon you hinted at. You’re simply another egocentric s.o.b. who thinks everybody who isn’t him or belongs to his club is beneath contempt. But in your great generosity of spirit you will treat them with contempt, which is more than they deserve.

    Bite me.

  17. Grant Says:

    “As a cop, whenever anyone presents me with a CCW permit with the driver’s license, I immediately ask if they’re armed. If the answer is yes, I ask where it is and call for “routine” backup . If it is on their person, I ask them where it is, immediately take custody of it, secure it, and pat him down while he is in a free standing position….”

    What makes you think you have the authority to disarm someone without probable cause?

    “I then conduct a nationwide stolen/wanted check of the gun/weapon.”

    Do you have probable cause to believe that the firearm is stolen? If not, what gives you the idea that you have the authority to do such a check? Do you also take their iPod and run its serial number as well?

    “she should have gotten the id of everyone at the scene.”

    What reason would the officer have to ask for ID? Were these people driving and breaking a law while doing so? If not, there’s no justifiable reason for an officer to demand a driver’s license. Were these people under suspicion for robbing their own store? If not, there’s no justifiable reason for an officer to demand they identify themselves beyond establishing that they are the owners of the property.

    It sounds to me like Officer Rogers is not the only one in need of remedial training. I understand that police officers want to ensure their safety, but that does not give them the authority to trample the rights of the people they’re sworn to protect in the process.

  18. Mike Wilcome Says:

    WOW!! As a former cop in Los Angeles, it amazes me to see how politically correct we’ve all become. Gals were not working patrol cars when I left the dept. in 1971. I got spoiled in the late sixties. My partner & I had about 35 yrs exp. between us and, he being 6’5″ and 300lbs, we never had a problem reaching the bad guys wrists.

    Now that I’m an old duff, (71), I have a CCW License in KY, and by the sounds of it, I’m glad I live where I do. I know when the alarm went off at my wife’s place of business, the local cops would have me on the phone & they’d always ask me if I’m responding and what color & make of veh. I ‘m driving. As a cop, whenever I responded to a burglary in progress call, I never felt threatened by “the good guy”. Rarely, did a burglary suspect offer his drivers license and CCW permit to me as I cleared the building.

  19. Mike Glaser Says:

    I am a former police officer who presently possesses a CCW license. My question to active police officers who would disarm a citizen possessing a valid CCW license is whether or not they’d disarm an off-duty cop that they happened to encounter on a traffic stop. I seriously doubt that they would take an off-duty or plain-clothes officer’s weapon away, because they’d likely give him/her the benefit of the doubt based upon the background check that they had passed, the training they had received, the fact that they had gone through being fingerprinted, photographed, and the fact that they likely posed no threat to the officer(s) making the traffic stop. Why should a private citizen who has done the same be disarmed because of some bias about everything being “them against us?” I would imagine that the minority within the majority of the criminal element in society who would kill a police officer don’t really give a damn about applying for and obtaining their concealed-carry license. The dignity inherent to a law enforcement career has its roots in the ideal of men and women who assume a calculated risk to enforce the law of the land within the boundaries of the Constitution. When officers adopt a heavy-handed stance because they feel resentment toward those who choose to exercise their right and responsibility to self-defense, they do themselves and the citizenry that they ostensibly serve a profound disservice. One of the first things that I learned as a rookie was that I couldn’t successfully do my job without the help of the community. When I treated the civilian population as partners in keeping the peace rather than adversaries, the vast majority of them responded with respect and often, surprise. There were, of course, notable exceptions, but any officer worth his or her salt can deal with that contingency.

  20. Jamie Says:

    WOW, fine don’t “policy-IZE” every thing, maybe try STANDARDIZE, I am disgusted, Law abiding, patriotic citizens are guilty until proven innocent. MAKES ME WANT TO PUKE!!! DON’T TREAD ON ME!!

  21. Josh Says:

    It’s a good thing ole’ Charlie Mitchener wasn’t shopping at Costco. He would have been gunned down in cold blood.

    Erik Scott – Rest in Peace. May his murderers be brought to justice and the Sheriff who supports and defends those murderers be removed from office and publicly shamed for his indecent acts.

    It’s time for the people to bring a corrupt law enforcement agency under control!