Leaving Loaded Firearm In Unlocked Locker Room Costs Corrections Officer Her Certification

Judith Lucke, a corrections officer with Multnomah County, Oregon, left a loaded firearm unsecured on a bench in an unlocked locker room at the jail, where it remained undiscovered for approximately eight hours. When the Multnomah County Sheriff terminated her, Oregon’s Department of Public Safety Standards and Training initiated proceedings to revoke Lucke’s certification as a public safety officer.

While the certification proceedings were pending, an arbitrator rejected a grievance filed by Lucke challenging her termination under her labor organization’s collective bargaining agreement. After the conclusion of the arbitration proceeding, the Department revoked Lucke’s certificate. She then challenged the revocation order through the Oregon Court of Appeals.

The Court found that Lucke’s conduct amounted to “gross negligence” warranting the revocation of her certificate. The Court stated that “Lucke left her loaded firearm unsecured in the women’s locker room of a Multnomah County Jail facility with no awareness of its absence. She completed her shift and went home. A supervisor found a black fanny pack on the bench in the women’s locker room. Lucke had forgotten and left her weapon in the locker room. Although the locker room had a lock on the door, the door was rarely locked. Those who had access to that area included female deputies, civilian staff, contractors, volunteers, a supervised female inmate janitorial crew, and occasionally staff who brought members of their families for lunch.

“Lucke engaged in gross negligence by leaving a firearm unsecured in an area accessed by non-authorized persons and inmates. Lucke’s conduct placed persons in danger and was a deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable public safety professional would observe. Her conduct demonstrated poor judgment and placed innocent lives at stake. In addition, Lucke had been disciplined for five previous incidents involving gross negligence.”

Lucke v. Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, 2012 WL 208072 (Or. App. 2012).