South Alabama Police Officer Suspended After Ticketing College Student For Having An Empty Gun Holster
A University of South Alabama student was charged with violating the school’s code of conduct after campus police caught him wearing an EMPTY gun holster. That’s right, he was carrying a harmless gun holster with absolutely no firearm in the holster or in his possession, and the gentleman was given a citation for his non-offense. Welcome to college campus life in 2016.
University of South Alabama student D.J. Parten displayed his displeasure against laws preventing people from carrying firearms on campus. Parten, who is acting president of the USA chapter of Students for Concealed Carry, was wearing an empty holster as a form of protest on Wednesday. It was part of a nationwide empty holster protest that the organization holds each spring.
A concerned student or member of the faculty called the campus police and told them that Parten had a gun holster on campus. The three officers confronted Parten and fellow club member Kenneth Tews. The police officer insisted that the empty holster represented a potential safety hazard because it implied the existence of a firearm, even if that gun was not on the student, which it wasn’t, it was at his home. Furthermore, Parten was standing at a protest table, where he was purposely drawing attention to himself, not a great strategy if he was trying to hide carrying a gun.
Here is the exchange between Parten and the officer:
Parten: “Is this just because I have a holster on me?”
Police Officer: “Yeah, it is, because somebody called it in. You know there’s a no-weapons policy out here, but still you want to push it.”
Parten: “Uh … this is a protest.”
Police Officer: “Did you get permission to wear it?”
Parten: “I don’t need permission to wear it.”
Police Officer: “You need permission from the university.”
Parten: “To wear a holster?”
Police Officer: “There’s a no-weapons policy here.”
Parten: “It’s not a weapon.”
Police Officer: “I understand that. Take it up with Dean of Students, then, because y’all are gonna be written up for disciplinary [sic], and I will put in there your attitude, you understand? So I’m gonna ask you one more time: where’s the weapon?”
Parten: “I don’t have it. It’s at home.”
Later in the video, one of the officers admits that Parten and Tews did nothing wrong.
“What you’re doing is not against the rules or the law, but when we get a call thinking somebody might have a gun, you have to be polite and cooperative, because if you start being difficult, [it looks like] you’re carrying something,” the officer told Parten. “There’s some people in here that disagree with what you’re doing, and when they see a holster, they call in; it’s just part of your protest.”
Despite that admission, the officers still hit Parten with a citation for violating sections 7G and 7N of the Student Code of Conduct.
Section 7G states: “intentionally or recklessly misusing or damaging fire or other safety equipment; use or possession of fireworks or incendiary, dangerous, or noxious devices or materials which have not been authorized by University officials; or intentionally initiating or causing any false report, warning or threat of fire, explosion, or other emergency.”
Section 7N is a broad measure that states students are prohibited from engaging in any conduct that violates university rules, regulations, or policies.
Getting a citation for an empty gun holster is like getting a speeding ticket while sitting in a car that has no engine.
From Campus Reform:
The school’s website states that “all weapons are prohibited in University housing buildings, parking lots, and on University property” adding that “this includes, but is not limited to, bullets, ball bearing bullets, bullet balls, pellets, firearms, guns, knives, paintball guns, air guns, hunting bows, archery bows, swords, martial arts weapons, and replicas of such weapons. Toy and water guns are prohibited.”
After the video went viral, the university backtracked. After an investigation, University Police determined that the citation, which ordered Parten to meet with the Dean of Students, should not have been issued and was rescinded.
“Upon further investigation, it has been determined that the citation should not have been issued and it has been rescinded,” University Director of Communications and Media Relations Bob Lowry said.
In addition, the police officer who cited Parten, Officer David Turppa, has been suspended for five days without pay for the incident.
“Officer Turppa and Officer Steve Gordon both apologized to the students involved,” Lowry said.
It’s promising to see that the correct course of action was taken after the incident, but who knows if the citation would have been rescinded if the video wasn’t recorded and gained popularity online. You don’t even need an actual trigger to trigger the PC police.