Philadelphia G.I. Cop Deranged Over Open Carry

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 2 months ago

Here is the backdrop.  The Philadelphia police spy someone legally engaged in open carry, accost the citizen, and later find out they are being recorded (it’s too bad that we have no video, this is audio only).

Can someone tell me why this is okay?  I don’t see any reason for this being acceptable behavior for any police officer, anywhere.  It’s not acceptable for an officer not to know the constitution, it’s not acceptable for a police officer not to be cognizant of his own department’s policies, and it’s not ever acceptable for a police officer to verbally abuse someone.

Or perhaps Philadelphia wants to be known as “The city of brotherly get the fuck on your knees and shut the fuck up,” especially if you aren’t one of the few in a city of around 1.5 million people who are personally known by a police officer?

  • jj

    Unprofessional to say the least. They need to lose their jobs. It’s roid rage assholes like this who give good cops a bad name. Pathetic….

  • jj

    And another thing, how much of an arrogant, power tripping, out of control asshole do you have to be, to continue to being belligerent w/ the knowledge you are being recorded?

  • Bruce

    I used to live in PA and had a CCW permit. I was in outside sales and went into MANY bad areas of Philly. On more than one occasion I stop incidents by just displaying my revolver. On one occasion I had to walk a block from where I parked to the customer’s building past several dozen, what appeared to be, gang members. I walked on the opposite side of the street from where they were but was approached by several who wanted to know what the f*** a white boy was doing on their turf (I nearly laughed at what sounded like a bad movie script). They started to push me around and I reached inside my coat. One said,”you trying to make us think you packing?” When I pulled out the stainless 4″ barrel Security Six, they all said, almost in unison, “D***!” They backed off.

    After my dealings with my customer he asked where I was parked and offered to drive me back to my car. I accepted his offer.

    I am now surprised that the police weren’t called due to a honky brandishing a firearm!

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  • Baba Ganoush

    “Do you know you can’t openly carry here in Philadelphia?”

    This cop is a danger to society. It is unfortunate if an officer does not know the law, but unforgivable if he knows the law wrongly. Get him off the street and into a classroom until he commits the Bill of Rights to memory and knows the laws of the city he serves.

  • Jeffersonian

    Disgraceful on so many levels.

  • id

    lose their jobs? no. these people need to criminally charged for their abuse of their position of power.

  • Porky

    Gee, you think he knows why cops have a bad reputation?

  • skydyv

    The kid has a great legal case against the department and the officer who held him at gunpoint, conducted a false arrest and conspired to create charges to hold him. Any good attorney could get the department for a lot of cash and probably have the officers badge revoked.

  • Suzanne Fattu

    The kid was interviewed this afternoon by Michael Smerconish (yes, that’s his real name) at length on radio. He began his walk with his recorder on and the gun in open view. The police did indeed handle the situation poorly, but there is just a tinge of feeling that this was a kid looking to make the police look bad. He certainly succeeded, but I doubt many people understand the details of the gun carry laws, even the police. BTW, this also proves that we have so many laws on the books that virtually anyone can be afoul of the law and get arrested for something.

  • Herschel Smith

    But open carry is legal in many states. For police themselves not to know that is unacceptable. If the kid was intending to make a point, then so much the better. I hope every police officer learns from it, and figures out that not everyone with a gun intends harm to innocent bystanders. In fact, the police can count on them as their greatest allies if they would stop and think for just a moment.

    Or is that too much to ask?

  • TMLutas

    John Stossel had a post up on this and one of the commenters posted Directive 137 which covers the situation. This is the part at the end:

    All commanding officers/department heads will ensure that
    all personnel under their command are made aware of the contents of this
    message by having the officer sign their training material receipt/record.

    (75-578) to be read at roll call for three consecutive days

    So each of these officers was read this three times and their commanding officer made them personally sign off that they heard and understood it. Once I read that section, this removed any doubt that this was just poor training. It is poor character and irreparable. These police officers need to find another line of work.

  • Ken Nelson

    While I support open carry from a philosophical/constitutional view, and abhor how the police handled this situation, the incident does sum up why I don’t do it. Carrying open attracts attention. Attention is unsafe and bad tactics.

  • TMLutas

    Ken Nelson – Open carry is a political game with the gun used as a tool to expose corruption and bad conduct by officials. Concealed carry is a violence game with the gun used directly as a tool of violence. There are two games, two sets of victory conditions, and two sets of rules to judge whether or not things were done properly.

  • Ken Nelson

    TMLutas… interesting idea. I suspect baiting was the plan by this particular individual. I don’t know. Just a suspicion based on the presence of an audio recorder and his initial \ non-compliance to the police officer.

    Exposure from an incident like this might educate some police officers as to open carry laws in their jurisdiction. It seems unnecessarily risky and confrontational. What ever happened to “education” the old fashioned way? It seems simple, effective, and non-confrontational, to go to the Philadelphia police and make sure their training and briefings include open carry law.

    I support Open Carry, and Constitutional no-license required concealed carry, but see no reason to place supporters in positions where police aim guns at them, just to prove a point. Or to encourage them to ignore the commands of police that have weapons aimed at them. Sort out the legal stuff later, once everybody is keyed down and safe.

    I know… I’m probably peeing in the wind when discussing this with folks committed to controversy, but if this incident had gone wrong, and he was shot, then as likely a reaction would have been to ban open carry as dangerous to the open carrier.

    I’m not excusing the police leadership, who clearly haven’t trained their officers to know the law.

  • DonM

    After all, a citizen who knows the law and uses his rights must be just doing it to provoke ignorant police officers. After all police should spend their limited time going after law abiding citizens (because it is safe) rather than going after criminals. Those criminals might hurt you~!

    Besides, it is fun to rake a cit over the coals, and then have my union brothers cover for me. They need to cover for me, because they might need me to perjure myself for them some time.

    What goes around comes around.

  • dennymack

    Well, with police that zealous I assume Philadelphia is a very safe city.

    I assume the carrier knew this would happen. If that is the case, he was making a bold but probably foolish gesture. He should pay more attention to what may happen than to what should happen. Being right while being shot is little consolation.

    As for educating the officers, I doubt this will have a positive effect. Those involved will just move anyone armed into the column of “problem.” They will remember their feelings and adrenaline, not city directive 137. Did they seem open to having a learning experience, based on the audio?

    Speaking of audio, did he think overuse of the effenheimer made him sound tough? Just made him sound agitated and unprofessional. Didn’t they train them not to call citizens F-ing A-holes?

  • craig

    On May 17, 2011 at 12:58 am, Ken Nelson said:

    “What ever happened to ‘education’ the old fashioned way? It seems simple, effective, and non-confrontational, to go to the Philadelphia police and make sure their training and briefings include open carry law.”

    The problem here is, what motivation do the police have to know and follow the law, so long as there is no consequences to them for failing to do so? Given this incident, and the ruling of the Indiana supreme court a few days ago (Barnes v. Indiana) saying that ‘there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers’, it seems that your rights are merely indulgences granted by the police on the scene.

  • Red

    Every open carry web site will tell you carry a recorder and always keep it on when open carrying. Without a recorder this kid would probably be in jail on false charges of threatening an officer or some such bullshit. It’s just a safety precaution against cops overacting in this manner and to prevent false arrests. The problem is cops keep doing the same thing over and over again(This is the 5th or 6th time this guy has been harassed by cops) so he decided to put it up on youtube so everyone could see what a fine police force the city of brotherly love has.

    If you listen to the tape it’s clear the kid never had a chance to mention the cop was being recorded. He was too busy being told to shut the fuck up.

    When cops are willing to make up anything on the spot about people they don’t like your only recourse is to take a recording device.

  • Tom

    @Ken Nelson — I’m in total agreement with you here.

  • bobby b

    As a Minnesotan who’s never been to Philly, I just gotta tell you that these cops – yeah, the ones who are right now learning the new definition of “viral” – come off as a bunch of drunk, mean hillbillys who were beaten by their mothers.

    Oh, and illiterate. I mean, they each seem to know only fifteen or so words, and twelve of those words are “f*!k”.

  • agathis

    I’ve talked to a few local open carry people in the area over the last few years (I live in the Philly burbs), and they all make sure they have recording apps available quickly on their phones for precisely this kind of situation. So I’m not sure the guy went into this looking for a confrontation. Even if he did, though, what are we supposed to do? Unless the cops are confronted on this, they’ll continue to harass people who are following the law. We shouldn’t have to defend ourselves against cops while doing something perfectly legal. And it says quite a bit about cops that they don’t know the law.

    That he’s being charged for public endangerment after being released just makes the cops look petty and vindictive–which, quite often, they are when they are shown to be ignorant of the law.

    It’s true though: this is why I don’t open carry. I don’t want confrontations like this. But that’s what the cops rely on: the ignorance and fear of the public in order to deprive us of a right that we should be able to exercise. It’s the same reason they get away with vehicle searches, etc.

  • bobby b

    To the cops, it’s just a matter of them trying to shut down dangerously inappropriate and pointless behavior – pointless, to them, because an armed and confrontative non-cop can only be a lose-lose situation for everyone involved, and then the cops’ll have to clean it all up.

    But it isn’t pointless at all. It doesn’t occur in a vacuum of this one guy walking around with a loaded gun. The walk is one of the necessary and painful steps that helps bring about an overdue re-recognition of one of our fundamental rights – a necessary step only because the cops seem intent on making people take it, just to assert their primacy, or something . . . , and painful because, well, getting beat and slammed hurts. They didn’t take Rosa Parks off of that Montgomery bus just so they could buy her a nice dinner and a show. It was all a somewhat dangerous hassle, prodding at the bulls, and it still is.

    But it’s still just pointless to the cops. They already get open carry, and concealed carry, and semi-transparent carry, and whatever other carries there are. For them, it’s silly, because the answer is so simple: if you want to carry weapons, be a cop! And, as long as ALL cops get to carry, life is fair.

    (But these particular cops aren’t going to be impressing upon the world even that sort of un-self-aware sentiment. Most viewers are going to spend most of their time, at least by the halfway point, screaming “learn some new swear words, gawdammit!!”)

  • teapartydoc

    This is a big deal. We are about to enter an era of great upheaval. If we lose our ability to defend ourselves against ignorant thugs like these our country is lost. We might as well move somewhere else. Keep in mind: these thugs are unionized. As the tape goes on it is obvious these pigs (I’m no hippie. I’m over fifty years old, and I hate hippies. This is the first time in my life I’ve ever referred to a police officer in this manner,but if this is going to turn into a REAL police state–not the phony one the commies talked about in the sixties–a REAL one like 1984–they need to be called what they act like) are setting the dude up. Everything the druggies and blacks have said about cops IS TRUE! Long-time coming. I finally said it.

  • SDN

    Carrying a recorder is a great idea. Carrying one that is set to stream the content to a remote server is a better one. That way the recording is much harder to “lose” when the cops steal your property.

  • Phelps

    I suspect that the reason it was audio only was because he had an open phone call to another line’s voicemail. That makes sense, because frankly, if it is on the device you are carrying, the cops that will do this will spoliate (illegally destroy) the evidence.

  • Kinch

    I think the proper way for the cop to handle the situation is this: “Sir, may I please see some identification? But first I’d like to take possession of your firearm for my protection and yours. Do you have a license to carry this firearm, and if so may I see it please?”

    If he had simply said that we wouldn’t be talking about the Philly Police now. Instead he yells “I don’t know who you are. Get on the ground and shut the fuck up!”

    Any competent law enforcement officer knows not to intensify the situation. He didn’t do that.

  • Herschel Smith
  • ChurchSox

    Philadelphia PD has been a scandal at least since the 1970s (see Frank Rizzo). It has defied any attempts at reform. Disband it.

  • jrr

    As a CCW holder for many yrs in PA, I can understand the idea of instantly challenging the cops for “abuse”. But my take is different. I have a responsibility to act in a more restrained manner, when or if I am told by a police officer to stop-raise my hands I will do so immediately. After, and only after, the officer has control of the situation to his satisfaction will I question his reason for stopping me. Did he need to cuss? No. Was he fearful? If he wasn’t he’s a superman. The cops face CRIMINALS everyday for a living, they have to be ultra protective in approaching everyone, let alone an openly armed person. My rights are my rights, and if after his investigation I am shown to be in the right and he still continues his abuse THEN I take legal action. The time to make a political statement is not when the cops are unsure of who I am and what I’m doing. They want to end their shift alive, and I want to go home as well. When the dust settles out on the street and I am found to be legal and they continue abusing me, ONLY THEN will I make it political and commence filing charges. They have an incredibly dangerous job and if all I lose is a few minutes of my time and listen to a few cuss words, so be it. Obey all police commands respectfully and in a timely manner, challenge their rights to do so after the adrenaline has stopped flowing. Be responsible in the face of irresponsible actions so you don’t get shot making a political statement. Everyone wants to get home safely at the end of the day.

  • geTaylor


    It seemed to me that this “officer” was “aiming” to create a justification for using his firearm. The City of Philadelphia cannot avoid the liability for this incident by virtue of its failure to properly train its employees. Hopefully, it will take effective action, and signal to the other members of the police force that failure to treat citizens with respect will not be tolerated, by accepting Sgt. Dougherty’s prompt resignation

  • anona

    Stop with the ‘dangerous job” bs! Police work is not that dangerous compared to night shift cab driver or night shift convenience store clerk. Want dangerous? Try lumberjack or commercial fisherman. Any one involved in Police work voulintered for it, we didn’t draft them. They knew the job had risks when they took it; if they didn’t, the aren’t smart enough to have it. As to having to face criminals every day, so do the rest of us. And for the most part we have to deal with them first. For the pd it’s much safer to go after the everyday joe on a traffic stop, he’s not as likely to shoot them no matter how out of line they get. A lot of people are fed up with the ‘roid raged adrenaline junkies packing a badge, idiot cops that cost the taxpayer whenever they get caught screwing up.The attitude of too many police on the street today is “I’m the law, obey or else’. It’s way past time for the pd to get back to the Peace Officer mode and walk way from the law enforcement mindset.The law abiding citizens are starting to see the police as just as bad as the criminals, and someone to be avoided. Then the police wonder why no one will back them up anymore. They brought it on themselves.

  • Mastro

    “While I support open carry from a philosophical/constitutional view, and abhor how the police handled this situation, the incident does sum up why I don’t do it. Carrying open attracts attention. Attention is unsafe and bad tactics.”

    Agreed – I carried in Philly for 3-4 years- always concealed. Open carry might get attention from some guy who could try to pick pocket you or bum rush you.

    It could also cost you your next girlfriend or a promotion at work- many people are biased against guns. At the time my boss carried as well- it was a dangerous area.

    I have sympathy for this guy- but my head and gut tell me to keep it concealed.

  • Lou Gots

    Pennsylvania has no “CCW” permit. We have a Uniform Firearms Act license, which, under Section 6106 of the UFA allows the licensee to carry a “firearm,” a staturory term of art, “concealed on or about the person, or in any vehicle. . .”

    As this incident points out, we have a special rule for “cities of the first class,” i.e. Phiadelphia, namely Section 6108, once known as the Black Panthers law,” forbidding open carry of “firearms” and long guns, if the subject does not have a license.

    Calling our UFA license a “Carry Concealed Weapons” permit puts the rabbit in the hat for those who would unwawfully restrict open carry. Obviously, some police wish the law covered open carry, but wishing does not make it so.

    Having a UFA license does more that allow you to carry concealed. It provileges you to carry guns in your car without have to worry about proving that you were truly an your was to or from hunting or the gun club.

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You are currently reading "Philadelphia G.I. Cop Deranged Over Open Carry", entry #6630 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Law Enforcement,Police,Second Amendment and was published March 27th, 2011 by Herschel Smith.

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