New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics
Objecting to officer’s firearm
Investigation into license – Reporting requirements
Background: A county court judge who is a firearms licensing officer and a village justice both write to ask if they may meet with certain village officials to express their concerns about a newly appointed provisional village police officer carrying a pistol. The officer is 20 years old and has not completed the police academy. The judges wish to determine whether the officer has proper legal authority and credentials to carry the pistol.
Opinion: The Committee concluded that a judge may, but is not required to, disclose his concerns to any appropriate authority, including the village police chief, about whether a newly appointed provisional village police officer has proper legal authority and credentials to carry a firearm. A judge who concludes he is legally authorized or required as a firearms licensing officer to initiate an investigation into the propriety of the new officer’s possession of a pistol may take whatever steps he deems legally permitted or required in that capacity. A judge who concludes he has a reasonable, good-faith basis to question the firearm authorization status of a police officer who has been designated to provide security in the judge’s courtroom may, but is not required to, meet with village police chief concerning the issue. If the judge concludes the officer is not properly authorized, trained, and/or licensed to carry a firearm, he may take any lawful measures to ensure order and decorum in his courtroom, including, but not limited to, objecting to the officer’s placement in his courtroom and consulting with court administrators on how to proceed.