Court Allows Employer To Seize Corrections Officer’s Guns

Written on 12/10/2022
LRIS

Andre Anderson, a corrections officer for the New York City De­partment of Corrections (DOC), was driving home from work when he was rear-ended by another motorist who fled the accident scene after Anderson insisted that they exchange insurance information. Anderson then pursued the occupants of the departing vehicle, first by car and then on foot, eventually drawing his registered personal firearm, misidentifying himself as a police offi­cer, and ordering a passenger to get to the ground.

The DOC suspended Anderson from duty that same day, thus triggering a “required surrender” of certain per­sonal firearms under DOC’s policies. Anderson did not object to the initial seizure of his registered on-duty fire­arm, a personally owned Glock 19, at his residence.

Anderson sued the DOC, alleging that it exceeded the scope of his consent when it improperly seized two of his other weapons: a Sig Sauer handgun and a Smith & Wesson rifle. Anderson’s primary argument was that the seizure of the additional weapons violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

A federal court dismissed Ander­son’s claims. The Court observed that “here, it is undisputed that defendants seized Anderson’s firearms after he admittedly chased down and detained a civilian at gunpoint after an off-duty car accident. Considering Anderson’s job-related responsibilities and the nature of the misconduct to be investi­gated, the alleged seizures patently were reasonable at their inception.

“Anderson’s Fourth Amendment claims must be dismissed also because Anderson has conceded that defendants were entitled to seize at least some job-related personal properly pursuant to valid DOC regulations while law­fully present at his home. Accepting all of Anderson’s allegations as true and viewing them in the light most favorable to him, it was objectively reasonable for defendants to believe that their actions were lawful – if not required – once Anderson surrendered the first handgun without objection.

“Anderson’s suggestion that qual­ified immunity does not appear on the face of the complaint because the defendants failed to comply with their own policy smuggles in the assumption that the Court must accept Anderson’s interpretations of what he believes to be the relevant DOC regulations as law. This obviously is not the case. There are numerous DOC regulations – of which the Court has properly taken judicial notice – that concern suspensions and firearm privileges, and the Court already has canvassed key ambiguities across several of them.”

“In addition, the DOC’s firearm regulations allow employees to seek a post-deprivation remedy by filing a Form 4511-F ‘Request for Restoration of Firearm Privileges,’ which requires the commanding officer to issue a de­termination within 30 business days. Employees may also obtain higher-level review along a variety of avenues, in­cluding through a Firearms Review Board, by the Assistant Commissioner of Trials and Litigation, and/or by the Deputy Commissioner for Investiga­tions. The complaint does not allege that defendants improperly withheld those remedies or that they were otherwise unavailable to him.”

Anderson v. Molina, 2022 WL 14890243 (S.D.N.Y. 2022).

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