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On August 4th Plymouth County Sheriff’s department Sgt. Rick Singer stopped a man legally openly carrying a holstered pistol while walking. The Iowa officer asked for the citizen’s permit, which he presented. Sargeant Singer continued to demand a “paper permit” which he insisted was the “legal permit.” Singer keeps saying that the permit is simply a “courtesy card.” He was wrong. He illegally confiscated the open carriers’ permit. The Sergeant then claimed . . .

that the picture on the permit is not recognizable, but wants to see a “paper copy” – which doesn’t have a picture on it. After the encounter, the permit holder filed a complaint with the Plymouth County Sheriff’s office. From

I’ve been open carrying for years and never had this problem before. Where these cops got the idea that you need to produce a paper copy alongside your valid carry permit is beyond me.

The Iowa code lists form WP9 as the legal form for the Permit to Carry Weapons as Form: “Authorization for Wallet-Size Permit to Carry Weapons, to be generated by the issuing officer including the type of permit, and, at a minimum, the individual identifiers of name and date of birth.”

It appears that the permit holder’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated. Sergeant Singer has qualified immunity…and he is ignorant of the law. Fortunately his abuse was not extreme. He did not arrest the permit holder. While he argued with him, he didn’t shout or use obscenities. Both parties were restrained and polite. I suspect that Sergeant Singer is now educated about this part of Hawkeye State law.

Three days later, the permit was returned to the permit holder. No apology was given, no charges were filed. The permit holder suffered damages (he lost valuable time, he was wrongfully detained, and he had to visit the Sheriff’s office several times). I doubt these damages are sufficient to make a lawsuit pay. If I were an attorney, I wouldn’t take the case on contingency.

Another poster noted that this was not the first time that an officer has claimed that a permit holder had to have a “paper copy” in Iowa. The law was reformed in 2011, four years ago. As officers become educated, these incidents will diminish. As they should.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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  1. Whats the purpose of a ‘Courtesy Card’ if not to conveniently display to an interested party that the bearer has a legally obtained permit?

    • Exactly. The “courtesy card” allows someone to carry all the information that a sane cop would need to confirm the carrier is valid. It has a picture on it which I bet the paper permit does not.

      What info on the paper permit does the cop need that isn’t on the card? I’d wager nothing.

      Frame 5:52 clearly shows a title of “Permit to carry weapons” on the freeking title of the card. Does the card say the person also needs to carry the paper permit….I bet it does not.

      Also, even after crappy YouTube compression artifacts, I can clearly discern the guys face and features on the picture.

      The cop was simply busting balls. He’s a douche nozzle.

  2. it is things like the “qualified immunity” that lets cops practice no restraint. and another reason not to trust them, even the “good” ones.

    • Not to wax paranoid, but I am coming more and more to see the police as a group that views themselves as an occupying force with the rest of us as insurgents to be dominated and humiliated.

      Any interaction I have with the police these days will begin with wariness and distrust on my part instead of respect and faith that they are going to do their job properly, which is how it should be.

      • You’re waxing realistic and you are not wrong. The police may or may not be the enemy, that’s for individuals to decide for themselves; but they are definitely not your friend.

      • Being retired LE I have seen local transition from PO/SD to the state you are describing. I’ve watched rooks being taught by their TOs to initiate all contacts ‘hard and fast’, aggressive and overwhelming, for even minor contacts.

        While this may (and does) work for certain situations, in the majority it instantly creates a hostile and confrontational interaction whereby the contact is at least resistant, fearful, and often non-compliant. ‘Command Presence’ is one thing; engendering instant hostility, resistance, and fear is not the same thing.

        Anyone who has read any of my comments knows I am very critical of how LEs go about their duties. I did not view myself as a ‘warrior cop’ as so many seem to do today. I took my responsibilities to the public and our constitution seriously. To protect both.

    • No such thing as a good cop, because they get fired the minute they get discovered. A good cop would not hassle anyone who didn’t harm or threaten anyone or anything.

      • Good cops do exist, just far and few between. I live in Iowa City and OC everyday. I actually passed a cop on a bicycle and a car today while walking downtown while OCing and nothing happened…just as it should.

  3. When you or I are ignorant of arbitrary and convoluted law it’s no excuse.
    When the cops are ignorant (or just making it up on the spot) it’s just another day on the beat.

    • @Shire-man: I had the same thought. OK for them not to know the law but we all have to ? Does that make any sense ? These cops need to take periodic classes and take tests to see if they know the laws they are enforcing. If they cannot pass those tests they maybe get another chance. At that point, if the cannot pass, fire them. Go find someone with enough intelligence to understand the laws.

    • “There needs to be an IQ test to be a cop.”

      In many areas there actually *is* a pre-employment IQ test for law enforcement.

      If you score to high, you’re dis-qualified for the job.

      I’m not kidding…

    • In many cases, police departments are forced to use standard civil service exams as part of an effort to make things “fair” across economic and racial classes. In the state I just moved from, police are handed a 3,000 page books containing a “CliffsNotes” type of reference of the laws they are hired to enforce. Many police departments training budgets are ridiculously low for the job they do, and it is usually because the local government sucks up the money for their pet projects. There are thousands of police departments around the US who have different priorities, so funds are not necessarily redirected where they ought to go — training. Especially now, many quality police officers are leaving the career for better jobs. It is also becoming extremely difficult to recruit new, quality officers too. And for political reasons and issues with unions, it is becoming more difficult to on-board and train reserve officers who can potentially take up some of the slack from the full time officers. Really, I am surprised it is not far worse.

      • Not to mention that more and more training is being taken up by politically correct or liability topics…

      • With LEO news from the past few months, it may well become near impossible to even recruit new officers.

  4. “If I were an attorney, I wouldn’t take the case on consignment.”

    And therein lies a problem.

    Any given civil rights violation is liable to go unchallenged and thereby tacitly approved if the likely ROI of a lawsuit is too small for an effective lawyer to bother with.

    As there were apparently no repercussions to the officer or the department, my guess would be that there was no effective learning going on.


    • There’s no such thing as taking a case “on consignment.” Consignment is what one does to sell used furniture or something. I think that Dean meant to write “on contingency.”

    • In the typical personal injury case, the attorney takes a percentage of the recovery, plus costs, as his fee. Therefore, cases with little prospect of a reasonable settlement often go unrepresented because the attorney’s fee on the recovery is less than the time he puts into it. By contrast, there is no shortage of attorneys taking civil rights cases for the simple reason that a prevailing party (which the courts have interpreted as meaning prevailing plaintiff) is presumptively entitled to attorneys fees.

      • Many lawyers will take such a case to make a point. A lot of lawyers believe that we should fight for people’s rights, even without the expectation of financial gain, and so we do. And, mirabile dictu, sometimes we win and are properly compensated for being on the side of the angels.

    • Qualified immunity is bullsh*t. Non-cops don’t get “qualified immunity” for violating the law just because they thought what they were doing was “reasonable”.

      Cops should know the laws that they enforce. Many jurisdictions require periodic legal training for cops.

      • People try to sue cops all the time for b.s. reasons. The department is ultimately liable. They hired them, trained them, certified them.

  5. This is harassment plain and simple… I’m thinking Singer knows the law… He thought he could get away with abusing a law abiding citizen’s rights and he did… Bet he laughed all the way back to the station…

    • Typical coward cop (most of them are cowards). They (from the bottom up to the chief) choose to spend most of their time confronting people who are no threat to society in order to avoid confronting people who are a threat to society. Chicken-shit cowards.

        • If they are going to go out and knowingly violate someone’s right then I’d rather they not be out there at all; including catching that robber. Find another job, collect welfare, off yourself (not you, none of this is towards you 🙂 ), or something other than going out in public violating rights under the color of law.

  6. Not that this incident was a final straw or particularly imflamatory, but…

    Government employees must be held to a higher standard without carve outs or immunity. This only reinforces a divide between law enforcement and so called “civilians”. The government would tell us ignorance of the law is not an excuse. This is at least doubly true for those who accept a government position.

    All government employees must be compelled to act Constitutionally at all times.

  7. Here’s a dumb question. Why not put a law library in each patrol car? If airlines can now issue flight manuals on iPads, and most police cars are now rolling computers, there’s no real reason I can see for every police officer to not have immediate access to all Federal, state, county and municipal codes relevant to his or her jurisdiction.

    Even with the complexity of the law, storage space should not be a problem. Throw in a good index and search engine. It shouldn’t even cost that much.

    Then, in the case of a reasonably polite disagreement like this one, there’s no reason – or excuse – to not look the applicable law up right on the spot.

    The permit carrier, in this case, still gets a hassle, but at least it’s limited in scope and doesn’t extend over multiple days.

    • @John L.: Brilliant idea that will probably never happen. Far too practical and would cut down on the excuses when something goes wrong.

    • When I was on the road (70’s), myself and others carried the latest edition of the “Cliff Notes” version of relative state statutes issued at the Police Training Institute, updated sections and county and city ordinances were carried in a loose leaf binder. This was all hard copy, actual paper. About the size of a small city phone book. Fit very nicely in my briefcase. Don’t need a “Law Library” as police are not enforcing corporate, real estate, nor estate law, just as a few examples.

      My law classes were the single largest block of instruction in the academy, and the largest chunk of the final exam. No, I didn’t retain everything I learned But if an arrest were made, I either knew the law, or if in doubt, I spent a couple minutes looking up the relevant section. This ain’t brain surgery. There is NO excuse for a law enforcement official to ever claim ignorance of the law!

      • “myself and others carried the latest edition of the “Cliff Notes” version of relative state statutes issued at the Police Training Institute, ”

        Yep. I still have the copy I received on the first day of training. Condensed Statutes, State of Wisconsin in paperback. I bet they get an E-book now, lol.
        I have often thought the second book they should hand out is one by Dale Carnegie, but I”m just an old fart. What do I know.

  8. This is an excellent example of a cop:
    – not having knowledge of either the law or common sense; and,
    – exhibiting the restraint of not escalating the detention into an arrest.

    It’s not perfect; but, only the Progressives promise us Utopia. Cops can learn the law and develop some common sense. E.g., even if the picture on the Permit were obliterated the cop could have asked for a driver’s license that might have confirmed the image = name-on-DL = name-on-CWP. It’s probably going to take some time for cops to learn the laws in their respective States. If judges can’t understand the law correctly we can have a little patience with the cops.

    We ought to make a distinction between a “detention” vs. an “arrest”. So this law-abiding citizen was detained for 5 minutes out of his life. It’s unlikely that he suffered some irreparable harm. Far better than his being arrested.

    LEOs are potentially either our best friends-of-the-2A or worst-enemies-of-the-2A. So far, street cops have largely remained silent; notwithstanding that they are largely endorsing the RKBA in the annual surveys. We PotG could tip LEOs one-way or the other: best-friends, or worst-enemies. Which of these two serves our interests?

    How about we really piss-off every LEO who so much as looks at us twice? Alternatively, how about we respond respectfully and show the LEO who asks our CWP? This CWP holder seems to have stood-his-ground while being calm and respectful of the LEO who was wrong. The more such incidents occur, the faster the LEOs will learn the law; without, necessarily, nurturing an US-against-them attitude. Looks like a win for the RKBA.

    We should ask ourselves: What can we do to make the outcome WORSE? And, then, avoid doing that.

  9. I don’t understand why law enforcement leaders don’t train their deputies and officers to deal correctly with CCW holders. The LEO’s in Missouri I have dealt with all been very respectful of the 2A, but deny having any formal training.

  10. As officers become educated, these incidents will diminish. As they should.

    You have a lot of faith.

  11. Cop is an asshole. Even 50 years ago they had a radio to ask questions on. This could have been answered and the citizen been on his way. No wasted time and money on anyone’s part. Just stupid.

  12. Fortunately his abuse was not extreme. He did not arrest the permit holder. While he argued with him, he didn’t shout or use obscenities.

    So Sgt. Singer isn’t a thug, he’s just a punk. That’s a big improvement right there.

    • Not likely. Actual knowledge of the law but acting contrary to that knowledge would eliminate the immunity. The immunity applies to officers acting “reasonably” (as defined by the law and circumstance), , and knowingly violating rights is not reasonable.

  13. Unfortunately, it’s for situations like this that we permit carriers need to know the law and be able to recite, or at least pull it up on a phone (I have the conceal carry law book marked in my phone in my state) to inform the officer of the law he should know.

      • I wasn’t saying to hand over the phone. I was suggesting you hold the phone and let him look at the page showing the law once it loads. I wouldn’t hand my phone to an officer. It’s best to just have the law memorized so you can quote it. They can’t really argue with that.

        • @Flame: Perhaps just memorize the code for the law. In our state it would be something like RCW 9.41.050(Washington State). Then you could says something like “Sorry Officer but according to RCW 9.41.050 all that is required is the permit that I just gave you. You may want to check with headquarters for verification.” It also seems very odd that the policeman in this video took the guy’s permit but did not take his weapon. If he really thought the guy with the gun did not have a permit why leave the weapon with him ?

        • In my personal experience, quoting law in such a way didn’t help in the slightest; “Oh, I see we have a jailhouse lawyer on our hands! Maybe you’re right, but that’s for the judge to decide.”
          Evidently doing so insults their intelligence, and draws only scorn & derision.

      • Reaching for your phone in front of Officer Itchy Finger might not be a super idea either.

        And yeah, even if you are right, all you are going to do is irritate that sort of personality.
        The judge will agree with you on Monday morning, after you’ve spent the weekend in jail. Just because.

  14. I can see this happening here. The standard permit is just a piece of paper that is impossible to fold in any reasonable way into something vaguely credit card sized. It’s not a photo ID, just a piece of paper. But the sheriff can, if he wants to, offer a driver’s license style plastic copy for an extra $10. My county has a liberal anti-carry sheriff who was very slow to offer the plastic permits and they weren’t offered when I got mine, although I could go back and get the card for the $10 fee.

    The problem is that depending on where you look you will find either one under ‘what does an Iowa permit to carry weapons look like?’ So I’m a little concerned that my paper copy might not be accepted as real when traveling out of state, and the same potential issue exists with the plastic. I would expect Iowa cops to know both though. The one thing the cop probably did know is that if he goes to court with his permit the charges are dropped, although you might be hit with ‘court costs’. Not sure about the court costs, but that’s how it works if you forget your proof of insurance card.

    I carry concealed and I laminated my paper copy (which is permitted – the paper would be looking pretty rough by year 5) so I’ve never bothered getting the plastic one. But if you’re going to open carry you might want to carry both since your chances of being asked for it by an ignorant cop is about a billion times higher with OC.

    • @William J: Where and how would you carry a full size laminated paper copy ? That does not seem like a reasonable requirement. Any cop with an ounce of common sense should realize that and also that a plain paper copy would very likely be a total wreck if carried in someone’s pocket for up to 5 years. Probably unreadable long before that time.

      • It’s not a full 8 1/2 by 11 sheet. Maybe 4″x8″ or so. I’ve got mine awkwardly folded up in the same slot as my DL. They do tell you that you can laminate them when you get them.

    • I’m in the same boat. My old county, Benton, is a bit behind the times, and never issued the plastic cards. The CCW is about the size of two bank checks stacked on top of each other, and impossible to fold easily. This whole deal kind of pisses me off, especially the logic behind seizing the CCW card from the permit holder because it was impossible to identify him in the photo. AHEM.

      I’m required to carry a crappy piece of paper that’s about 8×4″, and it has neither my photo, or any other pertinent information on it, then WHY should it matter if my CCW CARD has a marred photo?

      What happened here was a cop had a bit of a verbal altercation with somebody he found personally abrasive, and decided to screw him over slightly. He could have very easily asked for the man’s State issued ID, and called in the issuing Sheriff’s dept. to ascertain whether the man had a valid permit to carry if he had questions about it.

  15. The incident was caught on video. The deputy was clearly wrong. That being said, instead of a cival rights lawsuit, tying up the legal system. Strongly encourage the department to use this for training purposes. There are a lot of intricate laws that change constantly. Dissimination of information can be difficult. A citizen can teach a valuable lesson without causing a big comotion.

  16. Wonder how long the guy with the gun had to wait around or how many times he had to “bait” someone to get this video ? Or does he walk around with a gun and a camera all the time. Reminds me of the reality shows when I start wondering things like “what about the camera person” or ” This seems staged rather than REALITY”.

    • I walk around with both a gun (concealed) and a camera all the time (smart phone). I can start recording with two swipes and a click.

    • The open carrier said that he has been openly carrying for years.

      It does not matter if these incidents are from “citizen sting operations” or random encounters with clueless cops. The results are the same. Police are put on notice that they are likely to be recorded in any particular incident.

      The whole police culture is changing. It has to. For some, it will be a huge change. For others, not so much.

      Police will become more polite, they will follow the rules, and they will be careful about what they say. Bad cops, those with an attitude, or those who cannot control their mouth or tempers are being weeded out.

      • Well, I hope so. Certainly dashcams and bodycams will help weed out corrupt, incompetent, and psycho cops and help protect good cops – but they won’t catch everything.

    • I open carry everyday, everywhere legal, and I wear a body cam. I’m not baiting anyone and, I believe, the body cam has been part of the reason I am no longer harassed by law enforcement.

    • Cops stage stings all the time. Cops try to get kids to incriminate themselves all the time. Not that all cops or all departments are bad. But let’s be realistic: if a non-cop falls for the bait, they still get in trouble. Why not cops?

  17. I would put a lot of money on a bet that Sergeant Singer will read this thread. Information like this travels fast in the police/sheriff community. People will be sending him links just to get a rise.

    Sergeant Singer certainly was not a thug. He was fairly polite, if wrong. He was willing to put both of them on the dashcam.

    No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes. Every police officer makes mistakes in their career. The questions are “How big?” “Did anyone get seriously hurt?” and “Is it a survivable mistake?”. I know of piddling little mistakes where no one was hurt that turned out to be career killers.

    The thing that I find most disturbing about this is the lack of an apology. It would have gone a long way to restore the public’s trust in the Sheriff’s department, and it would have cost them nothing.

    • If Singer reads this post, maybe he can write a comment about why cops get qualified immunity for violating laws, but for non-cops ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

      And then maybe Singer can write a comment explaining why his department is so friggin incompetent that they don’t know the laws they are trying to enforce, or at least have a legal guidebook. As another commenter stated, when he was a cop they carried a binder of the pertinent criminal laws in their patrol car so they could look it up.

      • Officer Singer won’t read this thread; he’ll get on his “Police 1” blog, then bitch and moan about how some “smart-ass OC’er tried to make a fool out of him” and all the other P1 meatheads with their dip, velcro, and gear will tell him: “There, there, its okay; you should’ve just shot him! We’ve got your back” Kinda like this F’ing psychopath:

        • Is Medford in Mass? Why are cops in anti-gun states usually the biggest, well, Massholes?

          Cops should have been fired for threatening the guy. non-cops would potentially get a felony for threatening to put a hole right through someone’s f*cking head.

          I’m fortunate that in my current domicile the cops are polite and respectful.

  18. Permit for open carry? I guess that is no more crazy than my state who says you can’t open carry in state parks but you can concealed carry in them with a permit.

    • Open carry without a permit is legal in Iowa except within the city limits of any municipality. To open carry you need a Permit to Carry Weapons which allows the carry of firearms either openly or concealed. Concealed carry without a permit is an aggravated misdemeanor in or out of town.

      In Iowa you are allowed to carry a weapon with your permit in a state park but cannot use a weapon in a state park except at designated shooting ranges. It’s generally accepted that the term ‘use’ does not apply to a defensive gun use.

  19. Solution: Travel with all armed group whenever possible. When a dumbass cop violates your civil rights… shoot his dumbass.

    • Groups of open carriers are treated with respect by police. It is Machiavellian:

      There is no comparison whatever between an armed and disarmed man; it is not reasonable to suppose that one who is armed will obey willingly one who is unarmed; or that any unarmed man will remain safe…. – Niccoló Machiavelli, The Prince. 1537.

    • your nom de plume is quite accurate.

      you don’t get to use lethal force just for being harrassed by a non-cop, and you don’t get to use lethal force just for being harrassed by a cop?

  20. Well, if Sheriff Sgt Singer is reading this, or his Departmental Training Officer, or the Plymouth County Sheriff himself is reading this, then how about an answer, here:

    1. How is it that a Sergeant is ingnorant of a four year old law?
    2. How is it that a Sergeant, a senior rank granted to someone normally for experience and good judgement, can act so unprofessionally, and the department not even issue an apology, for wasting this citizens time, confiscating property (and conceivably putting the citizen at risk for arrest, or personal harm if he had to choose between carrying without a permit, or not carrying) and misrepresenting the policy of OTHER agencies?
    3. What specific changes in the Plymouth County Sheriff Dept training and continuing education process will prevent this unsatisfactory example of ignorance of the law, from happening to another citizen-taxpayer-legal permit owner.
    4. Politics- life is political, so lets not pretend politics DOESN’T play a part here-

    why in the world would you, Sergeant, TO, or Plymouth County Sheriff, want to harass legal permit holders? The most safe, responsible, tax-paying citizens of all, ideally those you want “on your side” for basic officer safety and ground level optics.

    For what purpose?

  21. “why in the world would you, Sergeant, TO, or Plymouth County Sheriff, want to harass legal permit holders? The most safe, responsible, tax-paying citizens of all, ideally those you want “on your side” for basic officer safety and ground level optics.

    For what purpose?”

    This is the Damn Good Question Of The Day, right here.

    Never thought of it in exactly those terms. But the police have increasingly become the servants of those who believe they are the the ruling elite and the rest of us dumb peasants. They no longer “Serve and Protect” us, but their masters. Thus the “us vs them” mentality.

    Armed citizens remove the monopoly on violence they view as their prerogative. We weaken the absolute power the statistics lust after. While we are NOT a threat to other citizens, we are a very real threat to those who would rule us.

    By the way, I’m an ex-cop who is rapidly becoming as distrustful of the police as many of the rest of you. And it sickens me.

  22. +1 Bruce- and I would add only that of the many street cops and sheriffs I know, 90% + are supportive of CCW permit holders- and thats in a very large So Cal area, that is typical of other geo areas with a very liberal metro core, with mostly conservative by geography remainder.

    What I think is happening is when you move from street cop, to management, your survival and advancement depends on doing as you are told by your masters, the politicians, or the big donors, in your urban dominated by left-democrat pols want you to do and say, top down.

    The perfect example being San Diego County- Peruta v Gore, liberal leaning San Diego, with a couple of lefty coastal communities, surrounded by a much more conservative suburbs and back-country, all held hostage to Sheriff Bill Gore, of Ruby Ridge infamy, deciding on his own that citizens dont have the right to apply for carry permits for good cause as simple self-defense. Because…???

    or Yolo County- 95% ag interests, now dominated by ultra-liberal Davis, surrounded by UC Davis.
    (home of Dr Wintermute, founded by leftist Joyce Foundation latest donation for two chairs for health policy on guns…) and a long entrenched Sheriff with multiple ongoing investigations for cronyism, family connections, abuse of his position, in exchange for ???

    Or San Francisco PD, or LAPD taking marching orders from those City Councils.

    All dancing to the tune of the ambitious CA AG Kamala Harris, Obamas prettiest State Attorney General, who ran on anti-gun platform, and is lined up for retiring Senator Barbara Box-a-rox seat.

    Kind of makes you wonder just who DO these senior managers and politicians represent?
    It is certainly not We The People.

  23. Courtesy card? Weird!

    I have never seen a “paper permit”. Our CHP looks like a drivers license.

  24. How is it that those enabled with enforcing the law know so little about it ? Ignorance by the law is become an American standard.

  25. This poor Sgt has to be very embarrassed for being so adamant about the law he obviously has no clue about. I shall pray for him.

  26. So did this officer get fired? He definatley needs to go back to school and take a LE officer’s test. Any officer this hard headed needs to be taken off the payroll and He needs to get on TV and explain to the public that he was wrong. In a perfect world this would be true LE officers are NOT infallable. When they do things like this, they need to apoligize to the public for being wrong.
    As does his chief.

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