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Long wait by armed driver also at issue

TUESDAY, JAN. 25, 2011

Spokane Police Ombudsman Tim Burns also declined to certify an investigation regarding a driver who had a permit to own a handgun but was given the gun back in pieces following a traffic stop.

The man, whose name was withheld from the report, informed police upon being stopped for a minor traffic offense June 27 that he had a loaded and holstered handgun. Police handcuffed the man and placed him in the back of a patrol car while they verified his gun permit.

Burns questioned why police searched the man’s car and returned his firearm disassembled.

“I can certainly emphasize with the officers and their concerns, but I’m also sympathetic with the driver,” he said.

The incident took unusually long because the officer mistyped the suspect’s name into the computer system.

Burns said improved training on data entry could prevent that from happening again.

Police have since issued a memorandum reminding officers to return lawfully owned firearms as they found them, if possible, said Lt. Craig Meidl said.

“The offices are expected to justify and write a report if they give a weapon back in a different form,” Meidl said. “We’re still going to do what we need to protect ourselves.”

Meghann M. Cuniff

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