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EXCLUSIVE: Compton Code Enforcement Officers Carry Firearms in Violation of California Penal Code 

By Brian Hews

(Compton) Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper has learned exclusively that the city manager of Compton will halt a controversial program that allowed  officers of its Code Enforcement Division to carry firearms, ammunition, and ammunition clips, apparently in violation of the California Penal Code.

The program has been in effect since 2000. Code Enforcement Officers were allowed to carry GLOCK 22 and GLOCK 23 .40 caliber pistols which can fire up to 16 rounds, with a clip capacity of 15 rounds.

Glock pistol carried by Compton Code officers.

Glock pistol carried by Compton Code officers.

They also wore bulletproof vests and carried handcuffs and pepper spray.

Sources inside Compton City Hall provided HMG-CN with dozens of internal emails between several city officials including City Manager G. Harold Duffey, City Attorney Craig Cornwell, Sergeant of Code Enforcement Carl Houston, members of the city council, Human Resources Manager Mario Beas and Chief Building Official Paige Vaughan.

A May 6, 2014 email from Vaughan to Houston seemed to indicate that city officials did not know who issued the firearms, what type of firearms and equipment each officer had, and if their badges were up-to-date.

Vaughan asked Houston: Who issued these firearms? Please provide a list of City issued/owned equipment provided to each officer? (I) need a list of city surplus property and location of city purchased safety vests, sand browns, handcuffs, pepper spray, etc.

Vaughan goes on to request, “please let me know if there are any sets of keys in anyone’s possession to vehicles not officially issued (to officers).” She also requested an accounting for all the badge “conditions” and issuance date.

Then on May 28 Compton City Manager Duffey sent an email asserting that the Officers were out of compliance with their weapons permits.

Sergeant Houston contended that the weapons training program PC 832 “did not lapse,” while Vaughn indicated that since Code Enforcement was not a Police Department, PC 832 does not qualify the officers to carry guns at any time.

Duffey wrote, “no one has questioned the PC 832 requirement of the officer’s ability to carry hand guns? They have been carrying since 2000.”

PC 832 is part of the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, or POST. All the rules for peace officers are set by POST, including hiring, firing, and training.

Later an Aug. 6, 2014 email was sent, apparently after several questions from Vaughan, asserting that Compton does not have a current POST for more than ten years and has no Peace Officer assignments.

The City has been “out of the system” and has not applied for any positions.

In effect, the email indicated that the Code Enforcement Officers did not have a current certificate and therefore were not qualified to carry guns.

See all emails, click here.

Once hearing this, City Manager Duffey made the decision to halt the practice effective today Tuesday, September 2.

It is believed that Compton is the only municipality in Los Angeles County to allow Code Enforcement Officers to carry guns.

Duffey stated in his directive in an email that was distributed on Wednesday, August 27, that “on Tuesday, August 26, 2014, a Meet and Confer was held with City Management, the City Attorney (Cromwell) and (union leaders) AFSCME Local 2325 and Local 3947 representatives, relative to the use of firearms.”

“After careful review and discussion, it has been mandated that the authorized use and carry of any and all firearms for Code Enforcement employees shall be DISCONTINUED, effective Tuesday, September 2, 2014.  This agreement was the outcome of safety concerns and the potential liability for the City of Compton,” Duffey stated in his one page memo.

Duffey, who is considered by many in Compton as being a “solid city manager,” demanded that  
all firearms and associated equipment must be turned in for inventory and receipt between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., on Tuesday, September 2, 2014, at 404 North Alameda Street.”

Duffey said that code enforcement officers must return firearms, ammunition, ammunition clips, firearm cases, firearm manuals, federal identification shell casings with fired bullet(s) and city issued Sam Browne Carrying Holsters.

Sam Browne holster

Sam Browne holster

According to the Compton website, the mission of the Municipal Law Enforcement Services Department “is to create and maintain a safe, attractive environment for the citizens of Compton through aggressive enforcement of laws and codes that pertain to vehicle violations, zoning, and maintenance of residential, commercial and industrial properties.”

The department has no connection with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Compton Station.

The department, according to the website, “is also responsible for providing comprehensive, proactive enforcement programs and services designed to eliminate slum and blight conditions and maintain the overall safety and appearance of the community.”

“The department focuses on the abatement of weeds and debris on residential, commercial and industrial properties; enforcing codes related to parking violations, zoning infractions, and property maintenance; and increasing security and safety in and around City facilities. In addition to enforcement activities, MLES provides public information designed to promote safety and property maintenance,” the website stresses.

“What the hells are these employees doing carrying deadly firearms.  When was the last time any sane city in America would strap a gun and ammo on to an employee for them to check if someone has too many weeds growing in their front lawn,” a longtime resident of Compton told HMG-CN.  The resident said they did not want to be publicly named for the purposes of this report.

 

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