Mass. officer disciplined over son's gun use


Copyright 2006 Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Inc.
All Rights Reserved 

LEOMINSTER - A police officer whose 7-year-old son fired a service weapon inside the police station last month has been disciplined, said Police Chief Peter F. Roddy.

Chief Roddy would neither identify the officer nor go into details about the discipline. The investigation was "strictly internal" and involved the officer's failure to secure his weapon, he said.

The chief said he would not name the officer because he does not want to embarrass the child, "who is absolutely devastated" by what happened.

On April 20, the boy went into the station with his father, who was off duty at the time and wanted to show someone a demonstration model of a holster for his service weapon, a semi-automatic pistol, the chief has said.

As a safety precaution, the officer unloaded the gun before showing the pistol and holster to another officer.

When the father took back the Sig Sauer P226, he chambered one round and ejected the magazine so he could complete the loading.

After the officer placed the weapon on a nearby desk in preparation for loading the magazine, the child picked up the gun and shot the chambered round into the ceiling and roof.

Other officers were with the father and son in the isolated, "non-public" part of the station at the time when the child shot the firearm, the chief has said. Nobody works in the area above the ceiling.

Nobody was injured.

The child told his father he did not know the weapon was loaded, the chief said.

When asked whether a similar occurrence in a private home would have been treated differently, Chief Roddy said if there had been an accidental shooting police might not have found out.

If police had learned of a shooting, there would have been an investigation, but the chief questioned what the crime would have been.

If the incident had been reported to the state Department of Social Services and police officers had witnessed what occurred, the agency probably would have screened out the complaint, he said.

"There's no neglect here of the child," Chief Roddy said.

"We deal with firearms on a daily basis. Mistakes happen," he said. "We try to minimize those."

The officer realizes he is responsible and knows where the error was made, Chief Roddy said.

The chief said the officer is the last person he would imagine this happening to because he is usually so safety conscious.

The incident will not happen again, and that is the purpose of discipline, Chief Roddy said. 
May 17, 2006

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