Chris Rock Was Right

Posted on Thursday, May 01, 2014 at 12:00AM

Labor Relations Representative
Berry Wilkinson Law Group

     Several years ago, the comedian Chris Rock created a comedy sketch entitled “How to Not Get Your Ass Kicked by the Police.” It quickly became a classic. Using his theme, “Obey the law,” we could easily make a video entitled “How Not to Get Your Ass Kicked by Your Police Administration.” 
     A great example is a recent case handled by this office. During an internal investigation on a separate matter, the Department did a locker search and was surprised to discover that the officer had purchased or traded multiple firearms over several years with a variety of his co-workers without complying with the requirement that firearm transfers be completed through a licensed firearms dealer. This resulted in several individuals being the subject of internal investigations. Each of the officers confessed that the reason for failing to comply with the law was simply procrastination.
     I suspect that the failures of these officers to complete the firearms transactions through an FFL are not isolated occurrences within law enforcement. But by not complying with 27545 and 26500(a), officers are committing a misdemeanor, which obviously gives their departments essentially a “free shot” at disciplining those officers — a completely avoidable consequence.
Penal Code sections 27545 and 26500(a) read in part:
     “Where neither party to the transaction holds a dealer’s license … the parties to the transaction shall complete the sale, loan, or transfer of that firearm through a licensed firearms dealer …
     “26500 (a) No person shall sell, lease, or transfer firearms unless the person has been issued a license …
     “(b) Any person violating this article is guilty of a misdemeanor.”
A quick telephone survey of some FFLs in the San Francisco Bay Area showed that the fee to process a firearm transfer ranged from $25 to $75 per handgun. It will pay to shop around.
     We all know there are some officers in our departments who have on occasion been the target of police administrators. A couple of years ago, LDF Administrator Ed Fishman spoke at a PORAC Conference workshop in which he discussed various ways to reduce the LDF rate associations were paying. He emphasized that the surest way was to get your members to stop doing silly things. Chris Rock’s advice, “Obey the law,” is one method. Not lying is another. As both Chris Rock and Ed Fishman suggested, it would behoove all of us to avoid placing the targets on our own backs by following this simple principle.

About the Author
A retired police sergeant who was chief negotiator and internal affairs investigator for the Alameda Police Department, Mark O’Connell currently serves as a labor relations representative with the Berry Wilkinson Law Group and represents its clients in collective bargaining and internal affairs matters.  

PORAC Legal Defense Administrator Ed Fishman Testimony: Law Enforcement Use of Body Cameras.