LETTER: Keep vehicles locked, remove firearms

From: Matt Harris

Columbus

Last month, I was awoken to a phone call you never want to receive.

One of our officers was involved in a police action shooting. The officer was not injured, however, the suspect was critically wounded.

It was determined that the suspect was in possession of a stolen firearm that investigators believe was used to shoot at the CPD officer. A firearm that was stolen out of an unlocked vehicle in Columbus.

While the investigation into the details surrounding how the suspect obtained the stolen firearm is ongoing, it is important to note that so far this year, eight firearms have been stolen from unlocked vehicles in Columbus and Bartholomew County.

Last year, 19 firearms were stolen out of vehicles and in all but one case, the vehicles in question were left unlocked.

Oftentimes, stolen guns are traded for drugs and many are ultimately used in other crimes. However, all of these stolen firearms are extremely dangerous especially in the hands of someone who is willing to use them to harm others.

This is something that our local law enforcement officers understand all too well.

Each day, without hesitation, law enforcement officers put on their uniform not knowing what might happen during their shift. Our officers are dispatched to dangerous and violent situations which many people don’t notice unless it personally impacts their life.

So little gets reported to law enforcement because it’s chalked up to being the new normal or just how things are.

Much is asked of our officers and even more is expected. We are sent on calls that could be extremely dangerous while some turn out to be absolutely nothing at all.

Oftentimes, we never know until we arrive at the scene. That is how things are in our line of work.

So how can you help our officers? As firearms owners, we all have the responsibility to ensure that weapons do not fall into the hands of someone who is not legally able to possess them.

You can help keep our officers and community safe by never leaving your firearm unsecured in a vehicle or in your home. Please take an extra moment to make sure that you remove all of your valuable items from your vehicle before locking and leaving it.

Do this each and every time.

So far this year, we have had 50 reported thefts from vehicles in Columbus and Bartholomew County. In 46 cases, the vehicle was left unlocked.

We would love to see a dramatic reduction in thefts for the second half of this year.

Secure your valuable items, lock your vehicles, and report suspicious activity to your local law enforcement agency.

Together, we can help keep Columbus and Bartholomew County a safe place to work and live.

Editor’s note: Lt. Matt Harris is the public relations officer for the  Columbus Police Department.