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An Orlando police officer is under investigation after he left a loaded handgun at a school. Kenneth Pinkston was off duty when his personal firearm was dropped inside the auditorium at Kaley Elementary. Two first graders found it Wednesday morning on the floor of `the school's` auditorium. Orlando Police Department's policy doesn't require off-duty cops to have a gun, but does encourage it. The investigation should uncover why Pinkston, who was at his daughter's program, didn't tell anyone about the missing gun.

"I don't think he knew that he had lost it there. It was one of the places he was looking and, unfortunately, he didn't find it when he looked for it," explains Brian Gilliam, Orlando Police Department.

—, Nov. 20, 2003

(Excerpt from Orlando Police Department newsletter, November 2003):

So you've lost your peacemaker, and you don't know what to do about it. Don't panic. Whether the item in question is your service revolver, a personal firearm or even that unlicensed Taser the department keeps covering for, you're bound to find it sooner or later. But if it's "sooner" you're counting on, here are some helpful tips for speedy recovery of a wayward weapon.

No matter what you may have heard, a misplaced piece is usually found in the most obvious of places. Rarely does one show up at an elementary school, in the "Holiday Music" bin at Best Buy or at an assisted-suicide debate. Before you go scouring the countryside for your missing friend, here are some places you might want to look first:

  • Glove compartment
  • Pawn shop
  • Airstream of last weekend's beer-bar pick-up
  • Fridge
  • Front lines, rapidly escalating gang war
  • Pine Hills Waffle House
  • Hamper
  • Sofa cushions/between cheeks of your enormous ass

Not there? Hmmm. This might be tougher than we thought. While we mine our collective wisdom for further suggestions, we have time to remind you that the smartest cops take preventative steps to keep their shooters from getting lost in the first place. One of the most popular is to adorn the gun itself with some sort of memory-enhancing device -- like a piece of string, a novelty air freshener, a ham sandwich or another gun. Thus, every time you look at your sidearm, you'll be thinking, "It's probably a pretty good idea for me to hang onto this thing, if I can." We know that pointing this out to you now doesn't do you very much good. In fact, it's likely making you more than a little bit angry. Well, what are you going to do? Shoot us?s (Heh heh. Sorry, we couldn't resist.)

OK, back to your dilemma. Ever thought of appealing to the gentry for help? Just post a notice of your missing accessory and watch your neighbors' pitch-in spirit carry you back to the land of slugs and honey. We don't mean taking out an ad in the newspapers. That's where reporters work, silly! And ad reps chitchat with them sometimes, especially if they're new and don't know the lay of the land. No, we're talking about community bulletin boards, telephone poles, pet-store windows -- anywhere people turn for the real news of the day. Just don't specify that it's a gun you're looking for, or you'll earn yourself (and us) a whole mess of unwanted trouble. Pay attention to this clever wording:

LOST -- Social-control device. Black, hand-held, faint whiskey smell. Only lethal in wrong hands. Slight wear and tear. Answers to the name of "Butch." Call (407) 246-2470. No questions asked.

Now lay in a week's worth of Big Grabs and park your carcass by the phone. If the responses haven't started rolling in within a few days, you may want to go on the offensive, placing calls of your own (anonymous ones, please!) to selected facilities where your "silent partner" may have since turned up. Follow this prepared text:

"Hello, (name of shopping center/old-age home/skate park)? I just wanted to alert y'alls to a little situation you may have on the premises. I'm on my lunch break, so I can't go into too many details. But let's just say that if you have a metal detector, and it starts playing Ã?The William Tell Overture' any time soon, can you call me back pronto? I sure would appreciate it."

If you've exhausted all of these options and Mr. Smoky is still nowhere to be found, you may be tempted to call in a professional. Be careful. Private detectives get a lot of credit for being smart and tenacious, but their relations with the force have always been fairly strained. They're often ex-cops themselves, and would like nothing better than to see you down on all fours, oinking in moist-eyed frustration while they sit high in a tree, dangling your gun over your head and whistling the theme to Babe. It's better to throw in your lot with a sleuth who's not so likely to blow your cover. Mall security guards, hotel concierges and bus-terminal janitors all have scads of experience in locating missing personal effects with the utmost discretion. Now's the time to put their expertise to the test. You may have noticed that we haven't suggested you turn to any of your buddies down at the station house for help. Well, you're a cop, and you can't find your damn gun. So some other poor, overworked flatfoot is supposed to have better luck? Hardly. Leave him alone and let him get back to filing bogus hood-riding reports.

Let's say that all of your best efforts have come to naught, and you're about to be upbraided for losing a loaded revolver for the third time this month. Who's going to haul your hide out of the fire? That's easy: a kid! It's a well-known fact that children have a talent for finding hidden guns that borders on the supernatural. (It must be all those hours of playing hide-and-go-seek and ferreting out copies of Juggs from their granddads' Modern Maturity stockpiles.) Find the nearest grade-schooler, draw him a picture of your gat and let him loose on the town. And don't let anybody guilt you into thinking that putting a rug rat on the hunt for a deadly weapon is irresponsible. They have, like, training in this sort of thing. They see filmstrips about gun safety at school. It's what your tax dollars pay for. So quit worrying and let the little child lead.

Sometimes, it's just best to lie back and trust the job to a professional.

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