I read with some unbelieving humor this story about an Ikea employee stopping a Chief of Police who was IN UNIFORM, and telling the Chief that weapons weren’t allowed in the business so would he please leave his weapon in his car? My first thought (removing the colorful expletives) was, “Are you freaking kidding me?!”
Chief Alan Goldberg is the Chief of Police for Takoma Park, Maryland. Takoma Park is (for the local folks) notoriously liberal but even they aren’t stupid enough to ask their cops to go unarmed. But here you have the Chief of Police, in uniform, going into the Ikea in a nearby municipality (College Park) and Ikea has a Weapons Free policy. The sign on the entry door says “Weapons Free Environment.” As reported, a loss prevention agent for the store approached the Chief and told him he’d either have to leave OR leave his weapon in his car.
Now, as much as I might not like it, if an OFF-DUTY officer OUT of uniform went into the store and the loss prevention agent somehow became aware of the officer’s concealed weapon, I can ALMOST understand them asking the officer to leave OR leave his weapon in the car. (If they asked me that I’d leave after promising the manager that I’d NEVER shop in their store again). But think about this: The Chief was in FULL uniform.
Now, after the fact… after the story had made local print and broadcast news, Ikea’s home office released an apology for the misunderstanding:
“We regret that there was a misunderstanding of our weapon policy in our College Park Store. Our weapon policy does not apply to law enforcement officers. We are taking steps to ensure that this is clear for all our co-workers.”
I view this as just one more example of how some companies, or representatives thereof, take anti-gun sentiment too far. I’m glad to see where Ikea has issued a statement specifying that their no-weapons policy doesn’t apply to law enforcement officers, This is reminiscent of the Denny’s that asked several plain-clothes detectives, who were on duty, to leave because the site of their guns was bothering other customers.
Folks, here’s reality: We’re law enforcement professionals. Virtually every one of us is required, by department policy and often by local law, to be armed. We’ve successfully completed weeks of firearms training sufficient to make LAWYERS and INSURANCE COMPANIES happy. Guns are but one tool of our trade and we will not go anywhere without them. If YOUR business doesn’t want guns on its property, then start posting signs that explicitly exempt the police from your weapon restrictions OR accept the fact that we won’t respond INSIDE your business for any call for service. You can’t have it both ways.
Yes, I know my rant was brought on by a “misunderstanding” and that Ikea issued their statement of regret. What I don’t buy is that the loss prevention officer, an employee of Ikea, thought he was doing anything wrong or outside of company policy when he approached a law enforcement official, a Chief of Police no less, who was in full uniform, and essentially told him he’d have to either disarm himself OR leave the store. There are just no words to express the depth of a lack of common sense that was displayed and I choke on the suggestion that the employee did that without believing the company was behind him 100%.
That particular Ikea is in the Northern part of Prince George’s County, Maryland, not even one mile off of Interstate 95. I guarantee you there are guns going in and out of that store on people who AREN’T police officers. Maybe not a lot… but some. I do truly hope that the Loss Prevention agents are properly trained in how to use verbal judo against an armed criminal because that’s the exact situation Ikea’s policies are setting up.
To Chief Goldberg: Sir, good for you. It’s a pleasure to see a Chief of Police publicly balk at the blatant stupidity of a company policy, even if they claimed it was a “misunderstanding” after the fact. I hope they hire some new Loss Prevention agents with a higher level of common sense. By the way… I’ve called around. None of the other furniture stores in the area have any anti-gun policies that they apply to law enforcement. Most of them are DELIGHTED to see a uniformed officer in their establishments. Perhaps one of them might have what you were looking for?