Police drawdown over airsoft gun may lead to disbandment of department

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When the police chief of a small North Dakota town stopped his cruiser and drew his sidearm on a local father practicing with an airsoft gun in his own yard, it set off a chain of events that may have caused the chief to quit, and could shutter the whole department.

The town

Valley City, the county seat of Barnes County, as noted by Wiki is a small town of just under 7,000. Nicknamed the "City of Bridges" it is a town whose history dates back to 1878 and is the hometown of current t Missouri Southern State University head basketball coach and former four-year starter at Kansas, Jeff Boschee.

A nice quiet town that would seem to respect sports. Which leads us to...

The incident

Police drawdown over airsoft gun may lead to disbandment of department - Editor - police-drawdown-over-airsoft-gun-may-lead-to-disbandment-of-department-542.png
Valley City Police Chief Fred Thompson, via Grand Forks Herald

As reported by the Grand Forks Herald in October recent Nevada transplant, Valley City Police Chief Fred Thompson was driving home from work when he thought he saw a man with an AR-15 and children "diving behind things."

With that, Thompson stopped and drew his gun on the man, who turned out to be a father playing airsoft in his front yard with his kids. Although no one was hurt, Thompson suddenly decided to resign effective in January, and for the record, he announced it was not because of the incident.

But wait, there's more

Soon a local concerned citizen, Robert Drake, began circulating a petition calling for the small town department to close its doors, lay Thompson off before his notice is worked out, and turn law enforcement in the city over to the local sheriff.

"We've got a chief of police right now that's the biggest idiot," said Drake. "He pulled a gun on a citizen ... a guy that was playing with his two kids. He can't tell the difference between an M-16 and an airsoft gun," Drake said.

Barnes County Sheriff Randy McClaflin said he is ready to take over if that's what the city wants, but isn't actively advocating for it.

Meanwhile, Drake, the local proponent of disbanding the force and firing Thompson before his resignation takes effect, has been barred from addressing the city council over his grievances.

"Let's err on the side of caution and tell him to go back to Nevada now," Drake told the Grand Forks Herald of what he intended to bend the council's ear over. "That's basically was what I was going to say."

We'll keep you posted.

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November 23, 2015  •  07:26 PM
While the officer definitely overreacted (the father was clearly messing around with his kids, there's no need for him to draw his sidearm), saying 'He can't tell the difference between an M-16 and an airsoft gun' is pretty asinine too...
December 23, 2015  •  10:42 AM
i think the officer was just doing his job. if i was an officer in any city, any county, or any state, i may react the same way! mind you that i play airsoft. a sign or multiple signs stating "airsoft weapons in use on premise" that are clearly visible from a minimum of 50-100 yards will go much further in situations like that. if the father had a sign that the officer could read before the officer drew his weapon, the officer may have never drew his weapon at all! which means this whole ordeal wouldn't be happening in the first place! airsoft weapon owners should use discretion and common sense when using airsoft weapons. as for the clown who thinks that people should be able to tell the difference between a real weapon and an airsoft weapon has obviously never even held or seen an airsoft weapon! most airsoft guns are exact replicas! which means that the airsoft gun looks like the real thing right down to the mechanics of the airsoft gun! it's people like that clown who give airsoft players and hobbyists a bad reputation. fellow airsoft players and hobbyists let's show everyone we can be more responsible with our sport and airsoft weapons!
August 16, 2017  •  11:41 PM
I think the office overreacted as well. Seems like he could have handled the situation much better than this.