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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Northampton County Sheriffs Sitting on 2000 Firearms

During yesterday's budget hearing, it became very clear that the Sheriff's office has a lot of firepower. They're sitting on somewhere around 2,000 firearms seized over the years. Sandy Templeton, a deputy who has been employed there for twenty years, told Northampton County Council they've never sold any and she's not really sure what happens to them.

"You've managed to pile up 2,000 weapons and have done nothing?" asked an incredulous Ron Angle.

The Sheriff's office is scheduled to undergo an audit of its seized firearms. The sooner the better.


Anonymous said...

Stop attacking people who are looking out for our safety. You are just a schill for Stoffa.

Anonymous said...

To 3:28 AM,

What does Lt. Templeton's bewildering statement and the independent Controller's Office possible audit have to do with Stoffa?

Anonymous said...

I say institute a guns-for-kids program in Easton, in lieu of the restricted playgrounds. It's a cheaper solution than fixing up pools nobody uses.

Anonymous said...

In other jurisdictions (not local) there have been issues where voluntary or involuntary gun acquisitions by the sherrif's office has netted antique or otherwise valuable firearms that somehow end up in the sherrif's personal collection or at sale / auction. With no audit, I wonder if all of the firearms "seized" are still accounted for?

LVCI said...

Not to worry Deputy Fife is guarding the impoundment cage. There are 2,000 arms and only one bullet.
AND.. 1 flipcam!

Anonymous said...

This is not good.

Anonymous said...

Can we sell the stuff and use the money to webcast meetings? Just saying.

Anonymous said...


99% of the weapons confiscated are for Protection from Abuse actions that must be returned to the owner after the expiration of the court order. Usually that's three years. They are just stored at the Sheriff's Office until returned to the owner. You can't sell them. I don't know what Angle was getting at. If he was asking about the disposition of those weapons that are not picked up after the order has expired, then that may be a question. But that's not up to County Council to ponder. That decision is left to the Court of Common Pleas to figure out. Again, County Council is sticking their nose into something that is better left out of their hands.

Looking for a real reporter said...

guezz another stupid topic. Bernie cant you do any better?? I mean really.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I cosider this highly relevant, and have been thinking about it. How many weapons should the Sheriff's office have on hand after 20 years? 2,000? Shouldn't it be more? Why has there never been an audit? Why has no one ever petitioned the court for an auction of these weapons? How many of these weapons have walked out the door in the past 20 years and ended up in someone's private collection?

If Council does not provide oversight, then who? Are we to trust the people who have yet to prepare a manual on the practice to be followed?

It seems to me that this is a highly relevqnt topic, and one that is way overdue for an audit.

Anonymous said...

duh isnt the PFA weapons a revolving door???? Take the guns when ordered and then give them back after the PFA!

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't all confiscated/held property be logged? Without accountability, these weapons can get legs. I just can't believe there's no tracking of this property.

Anonymous said...

of course it it logged where in the world isnt things logged??! this is just another stupid "report" that we all are getting sucked into that only has a small percent of the truth. come on people arent we use to articles like this.

Anonymous said...

ron is just jealous that the sheriffs have a bigger collection than he does. now he has to find another way to feel more special.

I'm sure an audit can be done, but my guess is that this is pretty well managed. I'm willing to bet that most are tied to a PFA and the rest could be sent to auction but that the total number is around 250 or less, which is hardly worth the effort of doing an auction. that seems to be the norm elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

First, any weapon that is confiscated is by COURT order.
Second, if by COURT order, then the COURTS have the final say as to what happens to the weapon.
Third, the COURTS will never allow an auction of the weapons that the Sheriff's Department holds. They will not allow weapons back in the community. Can you say liability? Longstanding practice is destruction of the weapons.
Fourth, BO if you have an allegation that a gun left the custody of the Sheriff's Department, then prove it. If not, let the Controller's Office do there job with an audit. I wouldn't allege something that serious, without proof.

Anonymous said...

"If Council does not provide oversight, then who?"

Controller's Office via audits and District Attorney/Attorney General if any criminal wrongdoing. Not County Council.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"First, any weapon that is confiscated is by COURT order"

Bullshit. Weapons are frequently confiscated w/ NO court order. Any weapon used to commit a crime, for example, is immediately forfeit. No court order is needed.

Also, I have not alleged anything. I've pointed to what could easily happen, and it has in the past. I know this.

Finally, county council has an obligation to taxpayers to make sure its funds are properly being spent. That does not happen when there is corruption. They are well within their rights to ask for an audit, so that corruption can be ruled out. These are questions that should ALWAYS be asked.

Anonymous said...

This is a bullshit post to slam the Sheriffs Department because they are on Ohares shit list.

So a politically ambitous headline seeking Controller and Stoffa want to smear the good folks in the Sheriffs Department for doing their job.

How about an audit on the use of Taxpayer funded County property for the sake of personal gain. How many personal calls are routed through the County switchboard for you Ohare?

Bernie O'Hare said...

No, this is a factual post about somethig discussed at a budget hearing yesterday.

Fact: The Sheriffs are sitting on arond 2000 firearms.

Fact: No one can seem to remember the ladt time any guns were destroyed or ordered destroyed.

Fact: There is no written policy manual concerning storage.

Fact: No one can seem to remember the last time, if ever, that the firearms inventory was audited.

Fact: In years past, I KNOW that firearms walked out the door.

Jerry Hawbecker claims to have stopped that pratice. It is entirely appropriate to conform what is going on via audit. If you have nothing to hide, you should welcome this move instead of slamming it, and should encourage that all questions be asked, instead of trying to demean this very serious undertaking.

Anonymous said...

These sheriffs sound like something out of Dukes of Hazzard. Can't we get a more professional department than this? Even the defender on this post sounds like a blithering idiot. Where's the accountability? Who's supposed to be in charge?

Chris Casey said...

Hey they got any rocket launchers? I will gove them a good price!
I will gladly take any Glocks Berettas, or Mosberg pump shotguns off their hands!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Doesn't everybody have a few rocket launchers?

Anonymous said...

"Bullshit. Weapons are frequently confiscated w/ NO court order. Any weapon used to commit a crime, for example, is immediately forfeit. No court order is needed."

I'm surprised at you, BO. This is Law School 101. Weapons are confiscated, but not by the Sheriff's Department when crimes are committed. That's by the Police Department. Because of chain of evidence rules, they have their own safes that they keep them in. They are not turned over to the Sheriff's Department. 98% of the firearms that are in the Sheriff's inventory is via PFA orders.

Anonymous said...

"Fact: No one can seem to remember the ladt time any guns were destroyed or ordered destroyed."

September 4, 1997 - 498 guns destroyed at local foundrey.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 8:38,

Can you tell me why you can post this information here anonymously and why not one of the three deputis on hand at monday's budget hearing could answer that question? In fact, Templeton could not recall it occurring at all in her 20 years. Why is that? You inmdicate a foundry. I presume there are pictures of the melted down weapons. And why not just identify yourself instead of playing games?

Anon 8:37, who is probably Anon 8:38, It's not called "chain of evidence," but "chain of custody." You learn that in law school 102.

I'll agree most of those weapons ae PFA, which require a court order, but there are instances when sheriffs must independently sieze weapons and don't ait for a court order to do so. If, when exercising a warrant, a gun is seen, it can be lawfully seized. If a gun is used in the commission of a crime, it is "deodand." You learn that in law school 103.

So back to my original point. You do not need a court order for some of the guns you seize. Yo say 98%? That means at least 40 of the firearms in your possession have no court order attached. I suspected the actual number is much higher.

Instead of freaking out, you should weklcome this audit and the inquiry. It insures that everything is above board. The reaction thus far is not reassuring, and I'm sure that reaction has been noticed.

Anonymous said...

From Anon 8:37 and 8:38

You don't need to take my word, even though I'm telling the truth. All you have to do is check the Morning Call archives on that date.
I'm just trying to give you the facts. Plus, I would encourage an audit. No games, please. I thought you encouraged people to go anon to bring forth information? I must be wrong. If I had a different opinion than yours, then I get lambasted because you lump me with other yoyos. Thanks. And why didn't the other three know the answer? I honestly wouldn't know. Good question though. Scary, just thinking about it.

Anonymous said...

It's not just confiscation of weapons, there are often times when law enforcement acquires weapons that voluntarily relinquished. When a husband dies, widows may contact the sheriff to collect the husband's gun collection. What can happen is that valuable firearms are simply given to the sherrif's office. While I'm not accusing NC Sheriff's office of this, there have been incidents where valuable collectors items are not logged, but simply are taken and/or sold at private auctions.

Anonymous said...

"Finally, county council has an obligation to taxpayers to make sure its funds are properly being spent. That does not happen when there is corruption. They are well within their rights to ask for an audit, so that corruption can be ruled out. These are questions that should ALWAYS be asked."

I would agree, however, who's fault is it, if a department isn't audited on a timely basis? The Sheriff's or the Controller's Office? By your argument, I would think the Controller's Office. Wasn't it the same thing with the Criminal Division? The Controller did not audit the books in decades. And someone stole money there. So who's at fault? The County Council should be a little ticked off at the Controller's Office for not auditing the Sheriff's Department in a timely fashion.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 9:52, 8:37, 8:38,

I accept anonymous comments and sometimes that is the only way some people will speak, but don't see why you feel a need to be anonymous. You're obviously from the department and identifying yourself gives you greater credibility, although it does open you up to attack.

You're getting lambasted not bc you have a different opinion, but bc you are condescending. It's never a good idea to argue the law with someone who was editor on his law review and graduated #3 in his law school class. I lost my license for drinking, not stupidity.

I'm glad you welcome the audit. Now is that hard to say? Even if it fails to disclose any wrongdoing, it will undoubtedly come up with suggestions for improvement. One of those suggestions will undoubtedly require that you develop a policy. Another will be physical proof of destruction or sale (if auctions of some valuable pieces is permitted).

Finally, let me assure you that I've been familiar with the inner workings at the courthouse a very long time. I even visited there as a young kid. I know exactly what used to happen to some of those weapons. I know exactly how some of them were "sdestroyed."

I do not think that practices continues and consider most deputies honorable, but note I said "most."

I think it will be relatively easy to determine if guns are missing.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I would agree, however, who's fault is it, if a department isn't audited on a timely basis? The Sheriff's or the Controller's Office?"

This is the responsibility of the Controller, Exec and Council. Last year, Ciuncil discovered that there had never been an audit of the firearms held by the Sheriff, at least not to anyone's knowledge. Barron added this to his list, and is getting things started.

As I mentioned, Council has an obligation to ask questions and provide oversight. It is not your responsibilty to step forward and ask to be audited. But when you get defensive about it, as some of the other comments here suggest, all kinds of red flags start going up. The very way Templeton responded to Angle's questions was disturbing, too. I do not suggest she was purposely evasive, but she sure seemed clueless. It did not inspire confidence.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Barron is alot like Stoffa, long on lists short on achievements.

Hang in there Sheriffs, the public knows who wears the white hats.

Anonymous said...

WHere do they keep these firearms?

Bernie O'Hare said...

In the basement.

Anonymous said...

God Bless the Sheriffs, our prayers are with you.

Anonymous said...

JOe Long and Anna McHale go in the basement and shoot at an apple on Dertinger's head....the excess firearms are put to good use.