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Monroeville officer's lost gun recovered

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By Tory N. Parrish and Michael Hasch
Monday, July 8, 2013, 9:54 a.m.

A loaded handgun and Taser that a Monroeville police officer lost over the weekend out of the bed of his pickup truck have been recovered.

The person who found the items on the Parkway put them in the trunk of his car, Monroeville police Chief Steven R. Pascarella said late Monday.

The gun was so badly damaged it will not function, Pascarella said.

“It appears to have been run over several times,” the chief said.

Pascarella said the officer, whom he declined to identify, was changing clothes in the parking lot of the police station after his shift on Saturday night. The officer set his utility belt in the bed of his pickup, and then forgot it was there when he got into the vehicle and drove home, Pascarella said.

The belt contained the loaded Smith & Wesson .45-caliber pistol, Taser, handcuffs, flashlight, radio and two 10-round ammo clips, Pascarella said. The items are worth about $2,000, he said.

Searchers found some of the items Sunday morning on the Boulevard of the Allies ramp to Crosstown Boulevard, but the gun, Taser and flashlight remained missing until about 7 p.m. Monday when a person called police to say he found the weapons.

The officer is a Pittsburgh resident who joined the Monroeville department about six months ago. He was a Pittsburgh police officer for six years, Pascarella said. The chief said the officer will be disciplined, but he declined to elaborate.

Monroeville owns its police officers' equipment, the chief said.

That's common among police departments, said Jim Pasco, executive director of the 325,000-member Fraternal Order of Police based in Nashville, Tenn.

Police academies train officers to secure their weapons at all times, he said.

“Every department's training is different, but one thing you can be sure of is every department and every agency strives to ensure that every officer will safeguard their weapon,” Pasco said.

Losing a weapon is uncommon but not unheard of, Pasco and others said.

“I know we're held to a higher standard, but we're all human,” said retired North Braddock police Chief Henry Wiehagen, who is president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 91, which represents officers in most of the suburban departments in Allegheny County.

The lodge would represent the Monroeville officer if he is disciplined, Wiehagen said.

The Forest Hills Police Department hasn't had a case of an officer losing a gun, according to police Chief Charles Williams, but he said it's a mistake anyone could make.

No one in the Bethel Park Police Department has lost a weapon in at least the 26 years that Lt. Dave Rogan has been there, he said.

Placing a weapon on a vehicle is risky, he said.

“It's like setting a baby on your car.”

Staff writer Margaret Harding contributed to this report. Tory N. Parrish and Michael Hasch are staff writers for Trib Total Media.

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