Monday, June 14, 2010

Replica firearms lead to citations

A group of Silverton parents are upset with the way police officers handled an incident last week involving several teenagers and fake guns.
Six juveniles and one 20-year-old were cited for second-degree disorderly conduct on the evening of May 30.
The teens were playing with Airsoft guns in a field when neighbors complained.
Airsoft guns are replica firearms that shoot round plastic pellets.
The neighbors called the police and locked themselves in a room in their house after hearing someone say, "Put the gun down."
Silverton city ordinance prohibits the firing of any gun or weapon within the city limits.
Silverton Police Department responded and officers spotted a pickup near Rosemary Way and Sage Street off Hobart Road.
Two people were in the truck and two people were in the truck bed.
Police reported that the two in the truck bed were holding AR-15 assault rifles and that one of them ducked when confronted.
Other suspects reportedly were in the area on foot and carrying weapons.
Three Marion County Sheriff's Office deputies, one Oregon State Police trooper and one Mt. Angel police officer also responded.
After several of the suspects were detained, officers learned that the weapons were replica Airsoft guns with the red safety tips removed.
According to Angela Fleshman, the mother of two of the teens involved, what happened next was overkill.
Fleshman lives near the field and was present when officers arrived. She said even after police learned the guns weren't real, they continued to use force.
She also said that not all of the guns were missing the safety tips, and that the teens had permission from the landowner to use the field for their game.
"The problem is not what (the boys) were doing or where they were, it was the behavior of the officers," Fleshman said. "It was pretty disheartening."
Capt. Jeff Fossholm with Silverton Police Department did not respond to this particular incident, but he said during training, officers are taught to assume weapons are real.
"As a police officer, if I'm dealing with a weapon and I can't determine if it's real or a replica, I have to assume it's a real weapon and treat it as such," he said.

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