[Update – NYPD IA has told me that their initial investigation has led them to believe that this was a New York State Trooper, not an NYPD officer. This does not change the nature of my concerns, but I feel it is appropriate to place the blame on the proper party.]
Last night, I was in an East Village bar when I noticed that a man was walking around with a full-sized semi-automatic handgun sticking out of his waistband. The man was wearing shorts and a t-shirt and made no attempt to hide his weapon. I assumed he was a cop based on the way he looked (style of dress, hair, posture) and the fact that the staff seemed unalarmed — not to mention the fact that citizens sure are sure as hell not allowed to open-carry, let alone concealed carry, in NYC. I wasn’t going to say anything until the guy started downing shots.
In Florida, it’s certainly illegal for a cop to pound shots in a bar while open-carrying, and I figured in New York City, which has the strictest gun laws in the country, the same would be true. I placed a 911 call, and the operator seemed unclear as to why I was calling. She brought Internal Affairs on the line, who took the call seriously and asked her to dispatch a supervisor from the local precinct, which was 0.2 miles away. Five minutes later, still no cops, so I called the local precinct directly to ask if they had sent anyone. The operator transfers me to another cop who pretends not to be able to hear me and says, “You better find some better reception before you call back this number.” Finally, almost 10 minutes later, four officers (but no supervisor) show up and basically tell me that there is no legal issue with having a cop, open-carrying a firearm, in a bar, drinking alcohol.
Needless to say, I’ll be following up with IA and the NYPD’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, and I’m not ruling out legal action. The definition of civil assault is “an act that causes a ‘reasonable apprehension’ of immediate harm or offensive contact to the victim’s person.” Would a reasonable person have an apprehension of harm based merely on the presence of a man openly carrying a firearm while doing shots? Let me know what you think in the comments.