New law to make law enforcement officers accountable who have guns stolen that are not locked up

CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) -- A quaint and usually quiet downtown Clovis neighborhood is where Assistant Sheriff Tom Gattie parked his GMC Yukon last week.

Clovis Police Officers responded to his home after getting a call of a car break-in.

"Once officers arrived on scene they started investigating a burglary and it was determined that the victim in this burglary was an off-duty sheriff's deputy. The vehicle was actually a county vehicle and some duty weapons were taken out of the vehicle," said Capt. Tom Roberts, Clovis Police Department.

Investigators will not say if the weapons were in plain view or if the car was alarmed. A .45 caliber handgun was taken, along with a specialty shotgun and ammunition.

Also stolen was Gattie's duty belt, and ballistic vest.

"There were no broken windows, but there was entry made in. There was a lot of things that were moved around in the vehicle," said Roberts.

A new state bill going into effect in a few days makes law enforcement officers just as accountable as every other California resident when it comes to leaving handguns in unattended vehicles.

The legislation was initiated after a gun stolen from the car of a Bureau of Land Management Ranger was used to kill a 32-year-old on a San Francisco pier.

The Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said her agency already has a policy

"Our policy is that when you are off duty, that you do not leave your firearms in your vehicle when it's unattended. And in fact, our policy outlines how they can be secured in your home when you are off duty."

The Sheriff will not say what punishment, if any, the Assistant Sheriff could receive. Only that the case is under investigation as a possible policy violation.

Clovis police detectives believe the guns were taken last Thursday overnight or early last Friday morning. The weapons were taken from the back of the SUV.

Investigators do not believe they were not in a secure and locked storage area.

Every day officers are following up on leads trying to track down the stolen guns. The Sheriff's Office is also providing any help necessary.

"They have all the markings from the weapon, the serial number, they've got everything they need from us to positively identify the weapon," said Mims.

The handgun is also identifiable by a very distinctive sheriff's star.

The Sheriff said deputies will be reminded of this law and all new laws which could affect them in 2017.
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