Interim Police Chief John Perez told the Pasadena Weekly that a police policy that allows officers to buy weapons without being subject to a mandatory 10-day waiting period could be revised to provide more accountability.
Under state law, waiver letters signed by the chief can be used by officers to buy personal handguns and rifles not available to the public.
“The Pasadena Police Department continues to suspend the 10-day gun waiver letter process and I am evaluating policy changes for better accountability and management of the waiver process,” said Perez. “These changes will establish clear expectations for the department and ensure better accountabilities with the process.”
It is not yet known what kind of accountability or new measures Perez would add to the program.
The department’s gun-waiver program was suspended by former Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez in 2017 after it was discovered that former police Lt.Vasken Gourdikian used the program to buy several weapons while he was allegedly illegally selling weapons.
More than 40 law enforcement agencies throughout the Southern California area contacted by the Pasadena Police Department during that investigation said those departments also issue similar waiver letters. Of the same agencies surveyed, 15 also issue authorization letters for rifle purchases.
At the time, Sanchez said he was cancelling the program “out of an abundance of caution,” and added he ordered the department to proactively re-evaluate its program on issuing the letters.
In California, there’s a roster of handguns that residents can legally buy. Police officers can buy weapons that are “off-roster,” and sell them as long as the sales are through a federal firearms licensee and the officers are not running a business.
Over a four-year period, Gourdikian requested waivers for seven weapons. Two of the weapons he received waivers for were not found in his home when officials with the department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (ATF) raided his house in early 2017. According to the form, officers cannot sell the weapons.
On March 2, Gourdikian was indicted on four counts of engaging in the business of selling firearms without a license, making false statements on ATF forms and possessing an unregistered short-barreled rifle. He was arrested but posted $100,000 bail and remains free. His trial is scheduled to begin in September. If convicted, he faces 35 years in prison. Gourdikian left the department in March.