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Quincy cops returning to work after renewing gun permits

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  March 5, 2013 03:16 PM

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Fifteen of the 20 police officers put on paid administrative leave for letting their gun permits expire were back on the job Tuesday, costing the department nothing more than some stress, Quincy police officials said.

The 15 had renewed their gun permits, and the remaining five officers were expected to be back to work by Wednesday, according to Police Captain John Dougan. He noted that department had previously said 21 officers were put on leave, but had incorrectly counted one officer.

Regarding the financial impact of the paid time off, Dougan said, “There is no cost aspect of it. It didn’t cost us anything.”

One officer was put on administrative leave on Friday, and after a spot check of gun permits Friday, the rest of the officers were placed on leave Monday morning. Dougan said the 20 officers also turned in all of their personal and professional firearms and ammunition.

The move meant that about 10 percent of the police force was being paid not to come to work for at least a day, but Dougan said several of the officers were already on their days off.

While the cost may have been unsubstantial, the expired gun permits of 14 patrol officers and six supervisors caused a flurry of activity Monday morning.

According to city rules, officers in Quincy are not allowed to work without a gun permit, and so all the offending officers were told to stay home.

The rule recently played a part in the firing of Quincy Police officer Joseph McGunigle, whose termination was upheld by an outside arbitrator because his gun permit had been taken away.

On Tuesday, Dougan said the department has been trying to expedite the license- renewal process since discovering the mistake, and is already in the process of making changes to ensure a similar problem doesn’t occur again.

“It’s an individual officer’s responsibility to figure it out. That being said, we have a program being put together so I can monitor it myself…so I can tell them, 'Go get your license renewed,' ” Dougan said.

As a precaution, the department is also conducting spot checks to ensure officers’ driving licenses have not expired.

Should a similar event happen again, Dougan said, officers would be “disciplined for the infraction.”

According to Dougan, a less severe punishment was extended this time around due to a misconception about license renewals. Prior to 1990, license holders had 90 days from the time their license expired to apply for renewal. The grace period was stripped shortly thereafter.

Although the rule was later reinstituted, there was a caveat that officers had to have begun the renewal process prior to the license expiration in order to be eligible for the 90-day grace period. Renewals typically take about four weeks.

Dougan said majority of the officers with expired license had their licenses expire within the last year. He was unaware of any officers who had expired licenses longer than that, though the last time the department conducted a spot check of licenses was a few years ago.

Mayor Spokesperson Christopher Walker said the mayor supported the way the police chief was handling the matter, and that any issues would be handled expeditiously.

“The mayor’s concern is public safety. As I said yesterday, the chief assured him that there would be no drop in manpower on the street,” Walker said.

As for cost, Walker also characterized the budgetary fallout as “a blip on the radar”.

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