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Bill could give slain Smithsburg police officer's weapon to family

February 23, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com
  • Smithsburg Police Chief George L. Knight Jr. urged state senators on Thursday to help a local family obtain a slain officer's service weapon.
By Andrew Schotz, Staff Writer

Smithsburg Police Chief George L. Knight Jr. urged state senators on Thursday to help a local family obtain a slain officer’s service weapon.

Christopher S. Nicholson was shot and killed while on duty for Smithsburg police on Dec. 19, 2007.
Knight said Nicholson worked hard to become a police officer, overcoming a heart condition. Nicholson had been on the job for about a year and a half when he was “ambushed” by a man who already had killed his ex-girlfriend earlier that day, Knight said.

Nicholson’s service weapon was a 9-mm Beretta 92F. His father, Larry, a correctional officer, has asked authorities if the family can have the weapon as part of a memorial.

“He would just like this weapon to maintain his son’s legacy,” Knight told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee during a bill hearing.

Ray Givens, the legislative representative for the Western Maryland Sportsmen’s Coalition, testified in favor of the bill, calling it a gesture of respect for “a friend, a neighbor and one of our protectors in our area of the state.”

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“We support it 100 percent,” said Joe Winter, the president of the Washington County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs.

Maryland law allows law-enforcement agencies to dispose of a handgun in a variety of ways, through a sale or transfer to a retired officer, another law-enforcement agency or a manufacturer.

A bill filed by Sen.Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, in the Senate and Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington, in the House would allow a deceased officer’s estate or an immediate member of that officer’s family who has a handgun permit to receive the service weapon.

Shank’s bill was heard Thursday.

Sen. James Brochin, D-Baltimore County, a member of the committee, asked who owns an officer’s weapon while the officer is on the job.

Shank said the weapon belongs to the government body that oversees the police department.

Larry Nicholson did not testify on Thursday, but said during a recent interview, referring to his son: “My biggest fear is after my generation, and the generation after that passes, that no one will be here who knew what he did.”

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