At many places of employment, the misplacing of job-related materials results in nothing more than a minor nuisance, such as an extra trip up the escalator to retrieve a workplace item or five minutes lost searching an overcrowded desk for a flash drive. However, as a recent case in the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) illustrates, the responsibilities of a federal employee, especially a federal law enforcement officer, in regards to workplace possessions are much higher. Earlier this month, officials from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) received a report from a passenger regarding an unattended firearm located in one of the airport’s bathrooms. As TSA officials traced the sidearm found in the bathroom, they discovered that it was the property of a federal law enforcement officer.
As a trained federal law enforcement officer, you certainly do not need to be lectured about how best to keep track of your gun and badge. However, it is a worthy exercise to consider the ramifications that can result from even a temporary misplacement of certain items related to your job. The dangers of misplacing your issued sidearm center around who may come into possession of that firearm and what purposes it then might be used for. For instance, it takes no imagination to picture what might have happened had the wrong individual come across that unattended handgun in the DTW airport bathroom. There are also risks associated with losing control of your government identification, such as an individual in unlawful possession of a government ID might be able to gain access to sensitive government locations and information. The same can be said of government computers, case files and other law enforcement sensitive information.
Here at FEDS we have noticed a substantial uptick in the amount of cases and claims that have dealt with similar situations from law enforcement officers. While the punishment may not be career-threatening, a number of LEOs have found themselves facing suspension or permanent stains on their records for not properly guarding their firearms or other government-issued property.
As for the Detroit incident, it is unknown how severe the disciplinary actions will be for the anonymous officer whose gun was misplaced. Thankfully, the weapon was found by a conscientious passenger, quickly reported to the proper authorities, and no one was hurt.
FEDS provides professional liability insurance for the entire federal law enforcement community. For information on your specific exposures, how professional liability insurance protects, or how the FEDS program differs from other insurance programs, visit us on the web at www.fedsprotection.com and choose the position or agency that best describes your job and professional responsibilities.