Everyone I know who has worked as a cop for more than a year has left a ticket book on the roof of the patrol car and drove away. Or their clipboard or some other piece of police gear. It is easy to get distracted and since we work outside our vehicles it is easy to leave a bit of gear on the vehicle and drive off. There can be a serious downside to leaving gear on the vehicle. If there are confidential documents on your clipboard and they fall into the wrong hands that is very serious. If tickets have been written and then are lost alongside the road someplace, then they will never be processed.
If a rifle is left on the truck lid of a patrol car and a criminal or child get the weapon; innocent people could be killed. At the very least a patrol rifle often costs over a thousand dollars and that is a big investment to lose. In this particular incident, the officer was unlucky enough to have photographs of the patrol rifle being flashed all over the Internet.
The officer deserves to be punished for what happened. Failing to put the rifle away where it belongs is a very bad mistake. It was not inherently evil. This deserves a few days off and a nasty note in the officers file. It should not be a career killer, but it should slow down this officer’s career. The discipline should not be influenced by the Internet photo, which is not relevant. This incident showed incompetence, not evil; that’s what the SGT Says.