What Does The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department Not Understand About The United States Versus Black?

BY Herschel Smith
6 years ago

Mass Transit:

During the 2016 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Bus & Paratransit Conference there was an open discussion hosted on concealed and open carry firearm laws. Firearm carry laws differ from state to state, but the biggest highlight was educating operators on those laws — to ensure that they properly address the situation.

Sgt. Charles Rappleyea, the police liaison for Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) said that Charlotte has a no carry law for all public transit. When they do get a call about someone with a weapon he said that they rarely have a problem.

“When we do, they’re often criminals,” said Rappleyea. “Everyone that we’ve encountered with a concealed permit, we haven’t had a problem.”

Whereas in Dallas, Texas, they have an open carry law. James Spiller, the chief of police and emergency management for Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), explained for people with open carry licenses — their gun must be in a holster. With the law it was important to educate the public on the rules.

“In Texas, if they are open carry, as a police officer I can’t just walk up and ask them if they have a licence without probable cause,” explained Spiller.

Which raises the question, how do transit operators determine if the person boarding their bus or train with a firearm is legally authorized to do so?

“They have a button, if they’re uncomfortable they can press the button to show ‘hey someone has boarded with a gun’.”

Sorry folks, but feeling “uncomfortable” isn’t a good enough reason.  And contrary to the cited article, it’s not only the police in Texas that cannot just walk up to someone without probable cause.  All stops must be valid “Terry stops.”

As we’ve noted before, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a rebuke to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department in the case of United States Versus Black.

Nathaniel Black was part of a group of men in Charlotte, North Carolina who local police officers suspected might be engaged in criminal activity.  In particular, Officers suspected that after seeing one of the men openly carrying a firearm – which was legal in North Carolina – that there was most likely another firearm present.  When police began frisking the men one by one, Mr. Black wished to leave, but was told he was not free to leave.  Officers chased Mr. Black and discovered that he possessed a firearm; it was later discovered that he was a previously convicted felon.  Mr. Black was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.  Before the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Mr. Black moved to suppress the evidence against him.  His suppression motion was denied, he entered a guilty plea preserving a right to appeal the denial of the suppression motion, and he was sentenced to fifteen (15) years imprisonment.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, however, determined that the officers had improperly seized Mr. Black, suppressed the evidence against him, and vacated his sentence.

The upshot of this ruling means that the conduct of an action that is perfectly legal doesn’t and can never constitute reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed.  And yet apparently the Charlotte Mecklenburg police are still stopping people who are in the process of open carry and asking for concealed handgun permits, contrary to both established law (since N.C. is a traditional open carry state) and court decision.

Why is this happening?  What possible excuse can CMPD have for this behavior?  Moreover, I think Sgt. Charles Rappleyea isn’t being forthcoming.  I think he’s mistaken, or not telling the truth.  I think the CMPD has no data on how many stops they have made on mass transit for open carry (stops which are contrary to or not in accordance with the law) and how many of those stops involved concealed handgun permit holders (besides, one doesn’t need a CHP to legally openly carry in N.C.).  And I think he’s not being honest about the judgment that while CHP holders aren’t a problem, there are actual criminals who are openly carrying firearms in mass transit situations.  In fact, I doubt that the CMPD has had any documented stops of criminals openly carrying on board bus or rail.  Is the CMPD “fabulating” for the benefit of the conference?

If so, the CMPD can correct me here, but in the absence of such correction, I’ll stick to my guns – pardon the pun.


Comments

  1. On June 6, 2016 at 8:01 am, Fred said:

    I just called Knoxville Area Transit (the nearest such entity to me) and the very nice and friendly, but ignorant “operator” referred my question to the “Safety Officer” by putting me on hold and asking them. They Safety Officer is police not a guy with a title and higher pay.
    My question; “can a valid concealed handgun permit holder carry a weapon on the KAT system.” After consulting with the Safety Officer, Operator; “are you a cop or something like that?” Me; my question is… (I paraphrase myself.) Operator, “well no, unless you are a cop or something.” I stay polite, as is our way here, and bid her farewell.

    Right now the Knoxville mayor is being sued for violating the state preemption on “Guns in Parks” where she declared an edict, that at the county fair, no firearms were allowed. I’m going to see if we can’t bring suit against KAT for discrimination or civil rights violations as well.

  2. On June 6, 2016 at 12:03 pm, Archer said:

    Good plan, but a quick question: does anyone have standing to sue KAT?

    Usually, to have legal standing, someone would have to have been arrested for carrying in a KAT vehicle or facility, or stopped from entering while armed. Unless and until someone is actually “harmed” (read: improperly treated and/or inconvenienced), any suit will be dismissed for lack of standing.

  3. On June 6, 2016 at 12:21 pm, Fred said:

    Right, I thought about that. I have sent a note to one of the plaintiffs in the case against the mayor. He is a local activist. Hopefully he knows at least some history or something with which to get started. Suing is actually the last option, there are lots things to do first such as, contact the mayor’s office, city council, maybe seek pressure from state reps.
    I have a suspicion that state gov will not do anything because of the dirty little political secret here called “because of Memphis”. which is code for – you probably already figured it out – can’t have blacks running around with guns.
    I don’t have the money to go get arrested on purpose and bring suit so…I’m gathering info now.
    There are some open carry guys (we don’t do that by tradition, it’s, how do you say, rude or something here) maybe they know something.

  4. On June 6, 2016 at 12:53 pm, Archer said:

    I hear ya, especially on not wanting to be the test case.

    I work in a public building, and the official policy is that no guns are allowed. The policy cites an administrative rule, which says we follow state and federal law and cites the applicable statutes. Those cited statutes say people with CHLs (concealed handgun licenses) are exempt from the gun ban in public buildings (except in prisons and court facilities). Therefore, logic dictates that a CHL holder can carry, despite the policy stating he/she cannot (logically, the policy cannot prohibit items that the rule/statute from which it derives its authority plainly authorize). But public sector workers around here tend to blindly follow policy without digging into details, so to my knowledge it has never been challenged despite its logical and authoritative flaws.

    I believe wholeheartedly that my argument has merit. But I still wouldn’t want to be the test case.

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You are currently reading "What Does The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department Not Understand About The United States Versus Black?", entry #15288 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns,Police and was published June 5th, 2016 by Herschel Smith.

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