Print

News >> Browse Articles >> Law Enforcement News

-53

Calif. Court Overturns Ban On Felons Owning Body Armor

Calif. Court Overturns Ban On Felons Owning Body Armor

The Los Angeles Times via YellowBrix

December 22, 2009

A police advocacy group has criticized an appeals court judgment last week overturning a law that prevented violent felons from owning body armor, saying the ruling will put officers and the public in danger.

The decade-old ban was enacted after the 1997 North Hollywood shootout, a confrontation between police and two heavily armored bank robbers that injured officers and civilians. The state Legislature passed the ban in 1998 as a measure to protect police.

Thursday’s ruling by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles overturned the state law, saying it was unconstitutional because the definition of body armor was too vague.

“It just makes this job that much more dangerous,” said Paul Weber, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League union for LAPD officers.

“It’s going to make criminals more bold and more likely to shoot it out with the police.”

The challenge to the body armor ban stemmed from the Los Angeles Police Department’s 2007 arrest of Ethan Saleem, a parolee who had been convicted of voluntary manslaughter.

Saleem was arrested when police noticed that he was wearing a 10-pound, bulletproof vest underneath his shirt, according to court records.

“Certainly Saleem wasn’t wearing body armor because he was going to a job interview or going on a date,” the union said in a statement.

Gerald Peters, the appellate attorney who took up Saleem’s case, said he didn’t necessarily disagree with the spirit of the ban, just the wording.

Rather than clearly define what constituted body armor, he said, the Legislature deferred to a long, complicated set of guidelines designed for police departments.

Peters argued that only a munitions expert would be able to decipher the regulations.

“The Legislature did a botched job. They took a short cut,” he said. “All they had to do was some independent thought to what they wanted to criminalize.”

Weber said the notion that Saleem, or other felons, would be confused about whether or not they were wearing body armor was laughable.

“It’s not like it was an extra thick T-shirt,” he said. “The guy’s wearing military-style body armor with a label that says body armor. I think it’s pretty apparent to the guy that it was body armor.”

Weber said his organization, which represents almost 10,000 officers, will ask the state attorney general’s office to file an appeal, which could bring the case before the California Supreme Court.

Other Top News:


-53
  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 4 years ago

    FUBAR

  • Sfa_iv_max50

    revCCBeasley

    about 4 years ago

    2944 Comments

    What is really going on in the CA system......They do some of the crazy things.......What would a felon want with a vest if he or she might be doing another crime?

  • Dsc00615_max50

    viper447

    about 4 years ago

    174 Comments

    I think the CA Legislature needs to haul ass back to the drawing board, and rewrite the ban so it is 'constitutional' again. Can't quite figure out how body armor fits in to the Constitution. But then again, I probably won't ever understand CA's liberal BS. I'm glad I live and work in TEXAS. I'm also glad I practice body armor/ failure drills, and carry an M16.

  • Marvin_max50

    lajustice

    about 4 years ago

    1178 Comments

    I knew it was gonna be stupid when the first sentences included california and courts

  • Swat_guy_transition_max50

    Swatdog381

    over 4 years ago

    160 Comments

    Does a reasonable dirt bag need body armor?

  • Fallenherobadge-3-1_max160_max50

    Radiotelegrapher

    over 4 years ago

    2714 Comments

    Dumb a$$e$

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Silent_Observer

    over 4 years ago

    446 Comments

    This will most certainly be overturned. The lack of specificity the judges (if you can call them that) claim to have seen was more than adequately covered by NIJ standards and lists of approved vests. I'm not a lawyer, but I have enough legal background to know that this judgment is a crook of $H!T. Here's to it being overturned and the dirtbag going back to jail where he belongs. I also hope the feds step in and make it a federal charge in the mean time.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    Shit - whay not give em auto weapons and a bloody key to the gaol aswell. Thought we had it bad!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    Let us seriously pray for law enforcement officers that have to work under these conditions.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    LegAdv

    over 4 years ago

    20 Comments

    It's the 2nd DCA. What more can I say?

  • Life_giving_sword_max50

    getocop

    over 4 years ago

    72 Comments

    DOUBLE TAP FAILURE DRILL. IN MY DAY THATS HOW WE TRAINED. TODAY I THINK TWO TO THE GROIN, THEN TO TO THE HEAD IS MORE PRUDENT THEN TWO TO THE CHEST. WHEN WILL THE CALIF JUDICIAL SYSTEM FINALLY WAKE UP.

  • 432nd_tfw_patch_max50

    fsa0033

    over 4 years ago

    324 Comments

    Yes, if the judges abided by the same rules we have then they would change the rulings. If they need protection so do we. Those police officers don't need to go up against previously convicted felons wearing body armor. If they commit a crime wearing one then they receive a mandatory 10 years. If they outlive the shootings. Head shot guys. Make them count.

  • Sstreetgangjpg_max50

    guncop3821

    over 4 years ago

    4 Comments

    Title 18, Chapter 44, subsection 931 of the United States Code states:

    (a) In General. - Except as provided in subsection (b), it shall
    be unlawful for a person to purchase, own, or possess body armor,
    if that person has been convicted of a felony that is -
    (1) a crime of violence (as defined in section 16); or
    (2) an offense under State law that would constitute a crime of
    violence under paragraph (1) if it occurred within the special
    maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
    (b) Affirmative Defense. -
    (1) In general. - It shall be an affirmative defense under this
    section that -
    (A) the defendant obtained prior written certification from
    his or her employer that the defendant's purchase, use, or
    possession of body armor was necessary for the safe performance
    of lawful business activity; and
    (B) the use and possession by the defendant were limited to
    the course of such performance.
    (2) Employer. - In this subsection, the term "employer" means
    any other individual employed by the defendant's business that
    supervises defendant's activity. If that defendant has no
    supervisor, prior written certification is acceptable from any
    other employee of the business.

    Either the state can follow the federal government's guidelines as to the definition of body armor when they rewrite the law, or charge them federally.

  • Orion_mouth_max50

    K9DELTA

    over 4 years ago

    130 Comments

    Liberal judges continue to make it harder and more dangerous for us to do our jobs. But the moment some whacko makes a threat against them, they call us to escort them around and sit on their house to protect them. How about making some decisions that will help protect us!

  • 119_1923_max50

    TPD327

    over 4 years ago

    396 Comments

    This judge needs to go.

PoliceLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a criminal justice degree program. Use PoliceLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

Get Info

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.

Recent Activity

Image_max30
Chitown_finest commented on: "The Editor", 2 minutes ago.
Image_max30
Chitown_finest commented on: "David Hanson", 3 minutes ago.
Eagle_and_flag_max30
36TR commented on: "Denise", 21 minutes ago.
Eagle_and_flag_max30
36TR commented on: "Fireball (Old Dude)", 22 minutes ago.