Special Investigation

Guns are a big part of life for Marylanders and all the rest of Americans who are guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms, as provided in the Second Amendment to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights.

There are serious but few restrictions on the right to possession and ownership of guns.

The chief and principal way that firearms are sometimes removed from private ownership is by court order and placed in the possession of police agencies.  

A few of the ways that legal possession is ended, either temporarily or permanently, is due to a person being charged or convicted of a crime.  

Guns are brought to airports, to the front doors of public buildings such as courthouses and, discovered in scanning machines, and then confiscated. Children bring guns to school, guns are thrown from fleeing vehicles by miscreants being pursued by police, and one of the newest means of seeing a gun confiscated is when a criminal arranges for a gun to be delivered to him in a prison yard by his cohorts on the outside using a drone.  

Typically, dozens of firearms are seized by police agencies and Maryland Sheriff’s Departments as a result of drug seizure raids and arrests of carjackers, armed robbers, and murder arrests.

In the many cases of domestic assault, Judges will not only order a defendant to leave the abused victim alone at home, school, or work but also that the offender must surrender all firearms.

What Happens to These Guns?

From bazookas, machine guns, antique Colt 45s with pearl handles, shotguns but sawed off, and every other variety, automatic rifles they roll into the coffers of agencies, usually to a big room referred to by police as “property held.”

From Louisiana to Michigan to around the nation, various police agencies place firearms with online auction sales companies to dispose of these weapons. The websites provide information on licensing as Federal Firearms Dealers and the procedures that must be followed to buy and take possession of weapons purchases.   

Four Maryland Sheriff’s Departments Are Requested to Provide Status of Firearms in their Custody.





The following questions are requested under the provisions of the Maryland Public Information Act:

1.  Who in this agency verifies an audit of seized guns by the agency? List that person for each audit.

2. Please provide the final audit report for these firearms for each calendar year or fiscal year from 2010 to the present, depending on how the agency’s original record of all firearms was maintained.


Good morning, sir.  Thank you for taking my call yesterday and further explaining how we can help you get the information you are looking for.  I appreciate the candor and the open two-way relationship we enjoy.  As far as your request:

The guns we seize are captured and properly accounted for on an agency property form.  The accounting of every piece of property in and out of our office can be completed via a hand search of those property sheets.  However, we do not have a specific audit report you have requested.  It is our understanding that CALEA, the accreditation process we started last month, has some audit requirements.  We will be participating in those processes in the coming years and look forward to sharing any of the information you need.


Lieutenant Colonel David Payne

Assistant Sheriff

Calvert County Sheriff’s Office



I am sorry if you misunderstood my email response. We can get the information you requested; I was letting you know it will be labor-intensive and require a fee on your part.

The estimate is $250.00 per year of requests due in advance. If you would like us to complete this task, we will need a check or money order payable to the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office. Up to you how many years you request.

If you were to run the story without this information, the accurate description would be the information is available; however, I did not want to pay for the service.

We are happy to comply with whatever you need.


Capt. John J. Bollinger

Talbot County Sheriff’s Office

Administrative Commander


Good morning Mr. Rossignol,

I am reaching out to clarify your question/request.

In reference to question #1, the agency does not conduct a yearly audit specific to seized firearms. There is a yearly general property audit of recovered items conducted, which may include firearms.  The audit is conducted under a CALEA standard and consists of the random selection of at least two hundred (200) items.  Each item’s location is verified and a visual inspection completed.  This audit is completed by our Standards and Inspections Section. 

In reference to question #2, as detailed above, the agency does not conduct a yearly audit specific to seized firearms, so we are unable to produce the records for the time period you specified.

Please review this information and clarify what specific records you are looking for.

Thank you.

Angie von Bank   #11936

Charles County Sheriff’s Office

Police Records Technician I


Good afternoon, Mr. Rossignol-

I am writing this email in reference to your PIA request below:

We are in the process of compiling everything, however our PIA Specialist Karen Moore had to take some unexpected leave.  There will be a delay on getting you your information.  Once she returns, she will provide it to you.  Thank you. 

Lt. Thomas Hedderich
St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office

When the Keystone Cops Stole Seized Property in St. Mary’s County

In 2002, this writer discovered and disclosed that a tractor-trailer load of building material seized from a drug suspect and put in police “Property Held” storage of the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department had somehow vanished from police custody.  Some of the building materials, such as doors, lumber, and windows, began appearing at deputies’ homes with the labels marked ‘seized by the St. Mary’s Sheriff’ still stuck on various items, adding an element of bravado and stupidity to the thievery.

The seized property that St. Mary’s Sheriff’s deputies stole became the subject of an investigation by the Maryland Office of the State Prosecutor, resulting eventually in the disclosure that the second-in-command, Captain Steven Doolan, had given to his stepson and a friend. Doolan was never charged with theft due to his wife being the campaign treasurer for then-States Attorney Richard Fritz.

As the scandal became known as THE LOOT, with weekly headlines asking WHERE’S THE LOOT? blaring from front page stories in ST. MARY’S TODAY professional law enforcement officers in other agencies just shook their heads at the latest antic of the Keystone Cops of St. Mary’s County. 

St. Mary’s Sheriff Richard Voorhaar suspended Doolan as Captain busted him in rank, and stuck him on the duty officer desk awaiting the outcome of expected charges or a police trial board.  Voorhaar canceled plans to run for reelection that year, and David Zylak replaced him as Sheriff.

Sheriff David Zylak let Doolan know that he would fire him, and Doolan was allowed to retire.

The drug dealer, Wendell Ford Sr., filed litigation against St. Mary’s County for the return of his seized construction equipment and won limited compensation in a settlement.

The St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Department first applied to the CALEA, which asserts that it is the Gold Standard in Public Safety, by Sheriff David Zylak and, prior to that time, never adhered to national standards for the storage of property held for evidence or through a court order.  

CALEA lists explicit steps in their program for accredited agencies to secure weapons and other evidence:

84 Property and Evidence Control


84.1 Administration and Operation

84.1.1 Evidence/Property Control System

84.1.2 Storage and Security

84.1.3 Temporary Security

84.1.4 Security of Controlled Substances, Weapons for Training

84.1.5 Records, Status of Property

84.1.6 Inspections and Reports

84.1.7 Final Disposition

84.1.8 Property Acquired through the Civil Process

  • St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department first earned CALEA Accreditation on July 28, 2007, and has been reaccredited four times with the most recent on July 28, 2020.
  • Charles County Sheriff’s Department was first certified by CALEA in 2001 and recertified six times since, with the most recent certification in 2020.
  • Talbot County Sheriff’s Department has never been accredited by CALEA.
  • Calvert County Sheriff’s Department is in the process of reapplying for Accreditation by CALEA – Former Sheriff Mike Evans quit CALEA in 2013.

The Salisbury Police Department adheres to the following procedures for storage and disposal of firearms in accordance with CALEA guidelines:

7. Property/Evidence Disposition: All found, recovered and evidentiary property shall be handled and ultimately disposed of in a manner consistent with the most current state law, federal law or city code. The disposition of the following listed items will be handled as follows:

A. Firearm Disposal(s):

a) Firearm(s) received as evidence will be returned to the owner/lienholder after all judicial proceedings have been completed to include any appeals.

 b) The return and disposition of firearm(s) received by the department as found property will be handled in accordance with city code. If the owner/lienholder cannot be identified, the firearm will be destroyed in accordance with city code.

c) Firearms voluntarily surrendered for destruction will be received with a notation made on the electronic SAFE evidence entry (or paper property record if this surrender occurs in the field) of the voluntary surrender. These firearms will be destroyed immediately at the next regularly scheduled firearms destruction date.


A. Firearms: Firearms shall only be released at the PES.  Exceptions shall be subject to approval by the Custodian of Property and documented in the current RMS.  Releasing employees are required to complete a NCIC/VCIN criminal background check using purpose code “F” on the person retrieving the firearm. 

The results of this background check shall be recorded on the Firearm Release Verification form (PD210) and sent to the PES.  

 B. Firearm Categories: Firearms and other weapons held as evidence or property shall be packaged in accordance with the Property and Evidence Packaging Manual and stored in the TPCP or transported to the PES.  Firearms may only be categorized as follows:

 1. EVIDENCE: Used when ownership of a weapon is unknown and/or used in commission of a crime for which the defendant will be charged.  

 2. DESTROY: Any weapon surrendered to the Department by the custodian or owner who no longer wishes to keep it, or a weapon used in concluded criminal cases not subject to appeal where the owner cannot be determined. Disposal of firearms shall be in accordance with the Code of Virginia. 

3. RELEASABLE: Any weapon held for the owner while that individual is in custody, unable, or otherwise prohibited from securing their weapon and any associated criminal case has concluded and is not subject to appeal. 

C. Owners of firearms marked “RELEASABLE” or “ELIGIBLE TO BE RELEASED” may take custody of their property from the PES upon appointment and successful passing of a background check.  Background checks are not required for firearms issued by the United States Military or another law enforcement agency if that firearm is returned to an authorized representative from that agency.  Weapons not claimed within 120 days will be destroyed at the next scheduled sensitive item destruction.

 1. Individuals who wish to turn over firearms into the custody of law enforcement should be instructed not to enter into a law enforcement facility with their firearm without first making telephone contact with staff inside the facility and receiving specific instructions.

 2. Officers may assist individuals with making firearms safe for transport.  If an officer is unsure with how to render a specific firearm safe, they may contact the Firearms Range Staff or PLC if after hours for guidance. 

D. Prohibitions on Release: Firearms shall not be released to the following individuals per the Code of Virginia: 

1. Individuals acquitted by reason of insanity.

2. Individuals determined to be legally incompetent or mentally incapacitated.

3. Individuals subject to active protective orders. FCPD General Order 612-Property and Evidence Page 16 of 24 

4. Individuals convicted of certain drug offenses.

5. Individuals convicted of felony offenses.

 6. Individuals who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States.

7. Individuals who are minors (under 18 years of age).

 8. Individuals involuntarily admitted to a facility, ordered to outpatient treatment, or voluntarily admitted after a temporary detention order was issued.

9. Individuals subject to emergency substantial risk orders or substantial risk orders while the order is still in effect.

10. Individuals enrolled in the Voluntary Do Not Sell Firearms List.

11. Individuals convicted, within the last three (3) years of assault and battery of a family or household member on or after July 1, 2021.

 E. Release to Third Parties: Firearms may be released to third parties where that individual (1) is not legally prohibited from possessing or transporting a firearm in Virginia, (2) the original owner has transferred ownership to the third party via a notarized bill of sale, (3) the third party is made aware in writing that it is a felony in Virginia to provide a firearm to anyone prohibited by law from possessing or transporting a firearm, and (4) is permitted by Fairfax County court order. 

F. Protective Orders: The Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) will take custody of firearms when the respondent of a protective order cannot legally possess the firearm due to the issuance of a protective order.

Turnover of firearms can be coordinated with the FCSO via telephone at 703-246-3227 or 703-246-4406, or 703-246-3279 (after-hours).  The FCSO may respond to the district station or scene to collect the firearms.  The FCPD may also provide long-term storage of firearms as necessary or if the FCSO is unavailable.  Firearms collected in these circumstances shall be classified as “EVIDENCE” in the current RMS.  The officer shall note in the narrative of their incident report the reason(so) for long-term storage and forward a copy to PES electronically.  G. Collection of Firearms: All firearms collected and entered into property shall be documented on the Department’s Gun Seizure Entry Form.  Firearms collected as evidence shall be submitted the Virginia Department of Forensic Science for laboratory analysis.

 Officers submitting firearms shall request ETrace and NIBIN test requests in addition to any other required RFLE tests (ex: DNA, latent fingerprints) no later than seven (7) days after collecting the firearm.  The collecting officer shall conduct a stolen property check for any firearm taken into police custody and note the results of the check in their incident report. 

1. Detectives and Investigative Entities: FCPD detectives and investigative entities that work directly with ATF may request an ETrace request through ATF resources.  The detective requesting the trace must document in a supplement the date the trace was requested, the ATF designee who performed the trace, and the ETrace submission confirmation number.  Once received, ETrace results shall be documented in a supplement. 

H. ATF Firearm Trace Request: Collecting officers shall complete ATF Firearm Trace Request supplements for all firearms they obtained that are seized, forfeited, found, or otherwise come into their possession and are believed to have been used in the commission of a crime.  The supplement shall be forwarded to the Concealed Weapons Unit which is responsible for submitting the trace information to the ATF and will notify the officer of the results electronically. 

I. Packaging of Firearms: Firearms shall be packaged unloaded in an approved hard container with the exterior marked “WEAPON MADE SAFE.”  Any related ammunition shall be packaged separately in an appropriate container and marked under a different property number.  No ammunition larger than .50 caliber shall be accepted for storage until rendered safe by an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit or forensic lab.  

  • Bull Shark from Potomac in 2010 Buzzs Marina

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