Saturday, April 05, 2008

Second Amendment Canceled

ACR received an email containing the following, your comments on this insanity are quite welcome.

Clearly James Cetran, the Chief of Police in Wethersfield deserves a tip of the hat.

James Cetran
Chief of Police
Wethersfield Police Department
250 Silas Deane Highway
Wethersfield, CT 06109

February 26, 2008

Chief Kevin Hale
President Connecticut Police Chief's Association

Ansonia Police Department
2 Elm Street
Ansonia, CT 06401

Dear Chief Hale,

I want to- relay to you a sequence of events that happened to me that may affect all police chiefs in the State of Connecticut. ­

On May 17, 2007 I issued a temporary State firearms permit to a twenty-nine year old local resident. This local resident is the son of a former police sergeant who retired from this department in 1995. I have known this young man since the day he was born. As a chief, I take this responsibility very seriously. I felt fortunate here because I knew this young man. He is very good citizen, very respectful, and has never been in trouble with the law.

On June 21, 2007 the young man was arrested by members of the Glastonbury Police Department. He is the manager of liquor store owned by his older brother in Glastonbury. It was late on a warm Saturday night when he left work and he decided to get a take-out order from Chili's before, heading home. He was,wearing baggy camouflaged pants and a tank top when he walked into the isolated take-out area of Chili's. He sat on a bench and was talking with an older woman waiting for his food to be prepared. An employee of the restaurant must have walked by and saw the outline of his handgun through his tank top and told the manager. The manager called the police and three- officers responded, including a sergeant. Even though the young man had a valid regular State firearms permit, the decision was made arrest to him for Breach of Peace.

On July 20, 2007 Judge Raymond Norko dismissed the Glastonbury arrest from court and ordered that the young man get his State permit returned to him. He went to Glastonbury Police Department with the order and was told that the permit had been sent to the State Police Firearm's Unit. The State Police Firearm's Unit refused to return the permit saying that the matter has to go before the Board of Firearms Permit Examiners and the Board will decide whether he gets the permit returned. The scheduled date for the Board's hearing is May 14, 2009, twenty-two months from the date of the judge's order to return it.

On January 25, 2008 I received a new application for a -temporary State permit from the young man. I am looking at the same application that I approved back in May 2007 except for one thing. There is a box on the back page of the application that asks if the applicant has had a firearms permit revoked from any jurisdiction. This box is checked. I really did not want to get involved with the young man's problems with the State. We have had a great working relationship with the State Police in general and with the Firearms Unit in particular for as long as I have been a police officer here, thirty-three years. I called the Firearms Unit and asked one of the detectives there what statute I could quote saying that the law dictates that I cannot issue a temporary State permit while the regular State permit is revoked. I was told that there is no statute, no rule, nor any written policy. I called our municipal attorney and was told the same thing. I called Lieutenant Alaric Fox, a ranking officer in the Firearms Unit and an attorney and asked him the same question. Again, I was told that there is no law, no rule, nor any written policy. Lieutenant Fox suggested that I do not issue the temporary permit. My next question was, "Why? What do I use for a reason to reject this new application? Is there something else here that I am not aware of that I can point to, to justify my rejection?" He answered that there was nothing more than the Glastonbury arrest, an arrest that was dismissed by a Superior Court judge.

I then asked the detective I have assigned to firearms permits to investigate the background of the young man in question again to find out if there is any legitimate reason to reject the new application. The report I received back included numerous items of information, including the arrest report from Glastonbury, but nothing new to cause me to think any differently than I did in 2007. Based on all this information, I believed that the best course of action for this police department, was to issue the temporary State permit and I did so on February 4, 2008.

I truly believe the State Legislature gave the authority to the local Chiefs of. Police to conduct the initial part of the process for firearms permits because the chief would probably have a better understanding of the suitability of the persons from his or her jurisdiction who apply. It is not necessarily just people with criminal records who should not get a permit. There are people with no criminal records who should never be given a permit to carry a handgun. There is no way the State could have that much insight, so the Legislature left the initial determination with the local Chiefs of Police. Prior to this situation, I would never have second guessed another police department or police officer's decision to make an arrest. I was not there and was not privy to the little nuances that occur in situations.

However, now I have to. I have read the Glastonbury report and I personally. know the young man in question. I would not have arrested someone who did not intentionally cause alarm and had a valid firearms permit. There is no part of the statutes concerning firearms that says the weapon must be concealed. Taking the arrest out of the equation, clearly dictates that there are no suitability issues and I should in all fairness issue the temporary State permit.

On February 20, 2008 the young man in question received a certified letter from the Firearms Unit advising him the temporary State permit that I had issued on February 4th was revoked. He had not approached the unit to obtain a regular State permit and we had not even sent the State's copy in yet. I was not notified by call or letter. My question is what give's the Firearms Unit the authority to revoke a permit I, as Chief of Police, issued? I think this situation could affect all Chiefs of Police throughout the State. Please let me know what you think.

Thank you in advance for your assistance in this matter. If you have questions or concerns, please contact me at (860) 721-XXXX.

Very truly yours,

James Cetran Chief of Police Wethersfield Police Department

250 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield, CT 06109

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