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Lawsuits in the Old Neighborhood

Looks like the Mayor of Rutledge, who is also an attorney, plans to sue Mike Nutter over his controversial “stop and frisk” policy. He’s going to have his work cut out for him, because Terry v. Ohio is the established precedent that says police officers are allowed a limited search for weapons before questioning someone, to ensure their own safety. The standard in Terry is “reasonable suspicion” rather than “probable cause.”

But I’m quite happy to see he’s also suing the Upper Darby Police Department for their policy of seizing firearms illegally. The UDPD has a reputation in Delaware County, or at least had a reputation when I lived there, that was less than stellar. This would indicate things haven’t changed much:

Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood Sr. said yesterday that his department will not return seized firearms without a court order or his personal approval. Those that aren’t returned to the owners are destroyed.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the state attorney general’s office are investigating aspects of the township’s policy.

Those investigations are focused on activity that apparently predated Chitwood’s arrival in 2005.

Chitwood apparently doesn’t care about Pennsylvania law, which states very clearly:

The Pennsylvania State Police and any local law enforcement agency shall make all reasonable efforts to determine the lawful owner of any firearm confiscated by the Pennsylvania State Police or any local law enforcement agency and return said firearm to its lawful owner if the owner is not otherwise prohibited from possessing the firearm. When a court of law has determined that the Pennsylvania State Police or any local law enforcement agency have failed to exercise the duty under this subsection, reasonable attorney fees shall be awarded to any lawful owner of said firearm who has sought judicial enforcement of this subsection.

There’s no penalty other than having to award attorney’s fees. If I were a taxpayer in Upper Darby Township, I’d be outraged that my Chief of Police was promulgating a policy that wasted taxpayer money fighting their legal obligation to return seized or stolen property to the rightful owner.

Hat tip to War on Guns

One Response to “Lawsuits in the Old Neighborhood”

  1. Weer'd Beard says:

    Jesus that’s where Chitwood (pronounced “Shitwood” went?)

    He was the COP in Portland Maine when I was living there. The Old Port district was a DISASTER. No police presence in a high bar area. There were multiple fatal stabbings while I was there, and you’d NEVER see a cop even on popular drinking holidays.

    He also confiscated a lawfully held open-carry gun from a man in a public festival. Couldn’t find a charge to file, so he just grabbed the gun, and asked the man to pick it up the next day at the station (He did with another gun on his hip).

    He also has a record of multiple settlements about police brutality. Those cases I usally side with the police on, but I feel it should be mentioned.

    You have a winner there.

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