State police guns loaded and lost were found by members of the public in recent years.
Internal records released to the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters show that among the state’s 1,030 troopers, only five lost their weapons or had them stolen in the last five years. These cases serve as a reminder of the importance of firearm safety and security.
NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters began this investigation after March 2016, when a department issued AR-15 assault rifle, bullet proof vest and two 30 round magazines were stolen from the trunk of a trooper's cruiser at home in Milford. Federal agents helped recover the rifle less than 24 hours later and arrests were made.
According to a state police manual cited in the internal investigation package, unattended trooper cruisers must be secured, the keys removed and doors locked. In the internal report, the trooper stated he left a spare key in a bag inside his cruiser.
The case was cleared but did note the violation and within 72 hours, all personnel were reminded to keep cruiser trunks secured.
This was not the first time a trooper’s weapon had been stolen.
Four years earlier, at home in Glastonbury, another trooper's assigned handgun was stolen from a safe and was never found.
This case was cleared, noting the trooper was, "the victim of a crime and he did not violate any department policy or procedure."
In April 2014, an off-duty trooper confessed to leaving his fully-loaded Sig Sauer on his cruiser's trunk while loading a sick child in the back seat, headed to the doctor.
A concerned citizen called 911 after seeing the firearm fall off the trunk on Route 691 in Meriden. The gun was recovered and had damages.
The internal report found the trooper failed to ensure the weapon was protected and the case was sustained without discipline.
A month later a different trooper left his loaded state sidearm on his cruiser's roof, leaving home for a call in Oxford. A citizen found it and reported it.
"When I picked up the gun, I lowered the hammer, because I didn't want it to go off. I also dropped the magazine, to see if it was loaded, it was. I tried to rack the magazine back, but it was jammed. I think maybe the gun may have gone off when it hit the ground, but I'm not sure," the citizen stated in the internal report.
The report did not indicate whether the weapon did fire when it hit the ground.
In July 2013, a caller to Troop C stated he'd driven over a black pistol in Willington. Police found and returned the weapon to the barracks, learning it was assigned to a trooper who was unaware it went missing.
Investigators determined the trooper must've placed it on his trunk while situating his kids in the car. They noted the trooper failed to ensure department property was protected and the case was also sustained without discipline.
All three troopers who lost their weapons received letters in their files.
Connecticut State Police would not agree to do an on-camera interview with NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters, but they did release this statement:
"Firearm safety is of the utmost importance to the Connecticut State Police, and as such, mandatory annual training for all CSP personnel includes firearm safety and specifically the proper handling and storage of firearms.
As you noted, there have been several incidents of missing firearms over the past five years. Some of those incidents were criminal cases where firearms were stolen from the home or vehicle of a Trooper. In each of those matters, the thefts were investigated by the appropriate law enforcement agency and administrative department reviews found that the CSP employees were not at fault. Additionally, while there have only been a few incidents during this time where firearms were misplaced by the assigned trooper, every such incident is one too many and fortunately each of these firearms was quickly recovered. These matters were referred to the CSP Bureau of Professional Standards, and in each case the employee involved was found in violation of CSP policies related to the protection of department property and administrative action consistent with relevant provisions of labor law and union contract was taken.
Most importantly, these incidents serve as a valuable reminder of the importance of firearm safety. For both first time gun owners and for those with years of firearms experience, firearm safety and the proper handling and storage of firearms must always be a top priority," wrote Sgt. Eric Haglund.