SEATTLE -- A Seattle police spokesman says the department is "embarrassed" after officers left a police rifle unattended on top of a parked patrol car in a busy downtown area.
Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said the department has launched an investigation and will be reviewing its policies that deal with securing weapons.
"It's very embarrassing," said Whitcomb. "There's really no excuse."
Two good Samaritans spotted the rifle on the parked car, Whitcomb said. One flagged down bicycle officers to alert them, and the other tracked down the driver and told the officer a rifle was on top of the trunk.
Whitcomb added the driver of the patrol car, whom KOMO News has confirmed was Lt. Deanna Nollette, "was not far, but was not within immediate control of the car."
A source told KOMO News Officer Bill Collins, who is assigned to the rifle, was cleaning out his patrol car inside the garage of the West Precinct on Monday. The former SWAT officer set the rifle on the trunk of a nearby patrol car, got distracted and ended up leaving the gun on the vehicle.
Then Nollette, who is assigned to that car, drove out of the garage for a shift on Tuesday and made it a few blocks before the citizens notified her of the gun on the trunk, the source said. It was not known whether there was ammunition in the rifle.
"It's a careless act," Whitcomb said. "We're very embarrassed. People should expect more, and we're looking into the circumstances."
The alternative weekly The Stranger first reported the incident, posting a picture that shows the rifle sitting on top of the trunk.
Whitcomb said such rifles are assigned only to officers who have additional training. They're usually kept in the trunk or between the driver and passenger seats. He added leaving a rifle unattended is a policy violation, but not a violation of the law.