Sponsored by TruckVault
By Cole Zercoe for Police1 BrandFocus
In May 2020, two patrol rifles were stolen from police vehicles in Seattle as the city grappled with rioting that consumed much of the nation throughout the year. Harrowing news footage captured the scene as a suspect took a rifle from a Seattle PD vehicle covered in graffiti and charred from being lit on fire.
Images of patrol vehicles with broken windows and smashed hoods set ablaze have become increasingly familiar. The NYPD saw over 303 police cars vandalized during social unrest over the course of just a few months in 2020, costing the agency $1 million in damage. In Los Angeles, 156 patrol cars were damaged – eight of which were totaled at $80,000 dollars a piece. Similar scenes resulting in thousands of dollars in loss or damage to both police vehicles and the equipment contained inside of them have played out in cities across the United States, from Philadelphia to Denver.
Of the numerous tools cops are equipped with, the service weapon is the one that comes with the greatest amount of responsibility. As a police officer, protecting the public begins with keeping firearms secure – particularly in vehicles, where they are arguably most vulnerable to getting into the wrong hands. The recent incidents during civil unrest underscore a problem that has been going on for a long time – and could potentially become worse as cities experience increased incidents of rioting.
POLICE FIREARM THEFT IS A MAJOR PROBLEM
In the case of the Seattle theft, both weapons were recovered. But many stolen police firearms are never found. An investigation by The Trace of over 100 law enforcement agencies found at least 1,781 guns reported lost or stolen between 2008 and 2017, with most remaining missing. Nearly half of those firearms were taken from cars.
Some stolen guns have ultimately been used to carry out crimes, including gang shootouts and attacks on police officers. A stolen law enforcement firearm was used in the 2015 killing of Kate Steinle, an infamous case that captured the attention of the nation and led to the passing of legislation requiring law enforcement officers to lock up their firearms if left in vehicles unattended.
These incidents, in addition to harming the reputation of the police agency and threatening the safety of the public, can also damage careers and result in legal consequences. Police officers and agencies face potentially serious liability for stolen and lost guns including fines, suspensions and lawsuits.
SECURE FIREARMS STORAGE IN UNCERTAIN TIMES
As the nation continues to see police vehicles targeted during violent social unrest, secure in-vehicle weapons storage products – like the ones made by TruckVault – must be viewed as essential pieces of police equipment. These storage products serve a dual role: both protecting officers and the public from potential harm and police agencies from costly repercussions such as lawsuits and equipment replacement.
TruckVault’s field-tested drawer systems are designed to prevent guns and gear from being stolen or damaged. Made from medium-density overlay (MDO), all of TruckVault’s products shield firearms and equipment from environmental threats like moisture buildup in a way that metal or plastic do not. The company’s products are also designed to protect against extreme heat – all models are built to withstand the type of fire damage that is being increasingly seen during riots.
The heavy-duty storage product supports in-drawer loads of up to 300 pounds, and the company offers a variety of base models, as well as custom options, for an agency’s fleet – whether they’re outfitting an SUV, pickup, sedan or other law enforcement vehicle. For agencies that need protection from water, mud, extreme weather or other additional harsh elements, the company offers a weatherproof line. In these uncertain times, TruckVault’s push button locks and heavy-duty construction are designed to ensure that police officers’ firearms and other tactical equipment are safe and secure, no matter what the threat may be.
FIREARMS AND TACTICAL EQUIPMENT STORAGE IS AN ESSENTIAL INVESTMENT
As already budget-strained agencies face further defunding, many of them are evaluating what should be considered essential to their operations. Police firearms theft was already a serious issue, but given the increasing frequency of mass civil unrest in recent times – much of which is specifically targeted toward police – there’s arguably more evidence than ever that security for expensive and sensitive gear should be on the “essential” list. Secure vehicle storage is an investment that will protect both police officers and the public, as well as save agencies money in the long run from the potential ramifications of a lost or stolen firearm.
Visit TruckVault for more information.