Haunted Houses, Guns, and a Questionable Policy

It is mid-December, time for a Halloween post right?

Ok, so I am a bit tardy on this one, but I think the issue raised is important:

A Baltimore city police officer delivered the fright of a lifetime to a haunted house employee, pulling a gun on the chain-saw-wielding man at the end of his act, authorities said Monday.

Sgt. Eric Janik, 37, was charged with assault and reckless endangerment for pointing his service handgun at the worker, who was dressed as Leatherface, the killer from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," Baltimore County police said.

The employee, Mike Morrison, followed Janik and several other people up a staircase Sunday night at the end of the haunted house tour in a bid to get "one last scream" out of them, police said.

When the group exited into a parking lot, Janik pulled his gun and pointed it at Morrison from less than 10 feet away, according to police and Morrison, who said he dropped the chain saw, put his hands up and backed away.

Only then did Janik identify himself as a police officer, said Morrison, who retreated into the building.

"I started shaking pretty bad," he told The Associated Press.

Another employee of the House of Screams called police.

According to charging documents, Janik smelled of alcohol and told police two different stories about what he did with the gun. First, he denied drawing the weapon, but later he said he pointed it at the ground.

Morrison and two other witnesses told police that Janik pointed the gun at Morrison's chest...
In my opinion, the most interesting part of the article is here:

...City police officers are required to carry their service weapons while off duty within city limits and can carry them at their own discretion outside the city, Guglielmi (a police spokesman) said...

Mandating off-duty personnel be armed at all times is not in the public's best interest and is simply ludicrous.

Does the agency really want the liability associated with non-uniformed officers being armed and facing split-second decisions after just consuming multiple adult beverages?

What about being armed while swimming?

Or, does the department's leadership prefer that the officer's gun be kept in his gym bag, wrapped in a towel, under a lounge chair while he/she indulges in a few cannonballs from the high dive?

If an agency does its due diligence and hires good people, there is no need to remove discretion concerning off-duty officers carrying guns.

A police department should mandate that officers be armed while wearing uniforms, acting in official capacity, or using departmental vehicles, but leave the other off-duty instances to their people's best judgment.


Sue said...

I concur; I don't understand the need to mandate it.

Cogito Dexter said...

It does seem to be a crazy policy!

Erin said...

That is crazy.

A Doc 2 Be said...

I think it is crazier that society has gotten to a point where going to get horrified is cool. We, as a society, have condoned horrible movies (Texas Chainsaw, Halloween, and 13th franchises) and then wonder why people commit the extremely horrific crimes. I know the post was about the officer, I'm more horrified about the Halloween house.

As for the officer, HE was very, very wrong. However, if toting a service weapon and being in the right spot at the right time means saving someone else's life, I guess I'm okay with that. The mandating part, hmm... /scratches chin.

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
Guns and alcohol, bad mix. I agree it should be allowed to carry a weapon off-duty (and probably your shield if you do).

But I think you're right. The pool is a great example. Locking up a gun in a flimsy locker, or leaving it in the car while you do laps sounds like a huge mistake.

As for haunted houses: Doc 2 Be, you and I can just stay outside, I guess, and talk about other things!

Thanks for a great post!
Ann T.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with the Haunted house. Its halloween. I expect things like that. I do however have a problem with a drunk police officer pulling a gun on someone.

I support the police 100%. But that is wrong. As far as the policy, um well it has both pros and cons to it.

I can see it doing some good but I can see it being a bad thing.

Natalie said...

You make an interesting point. In my hubby's department the chief recommends that they pack while off-duty, but to the individual's discretion.

We're not alcohol drinkers and the hubs ALWAYS has his gun with him, but not because it's required, just recommended.

Isha Shiri said...

Hello! First of all, thank you for your visit in my Blog.

I read all of this post and I know from experience (I did IDF in Israel for 4 years and I am in the reserve) how important the authorities to train the military and police in the proper use of weapons. More important it is to the good conduct for armed when they are out of service and give strict rules to prevent inadvertent or careless.

Kisses and Peace


BobKat said...

I concur also... good catch there Slam on ludicrous policies...

Dan said...

Carry always is usually a knee-jerk reaction to an occurrence involving an unarmed off-duty police officer. Then when the carry always policy results in a tragedy, the knee jerk is to go to carry never until ...

Be a lot easier to develop a sane discretionary policy and stick with it.

Sandra G. said...

What an ill thought out policy that one is.

Guns and booze don't mix. An Amercian 'collegue', who lives in a State that permits off-duty carry (much different than mandated off-duty carry), says when they go out they always have a desginated driver and gun packer. The rest of them leave their vehicles and guns at home.