Daytona Beach police Chief Mike Chitwood was stopped by security at Orlando International Airport last week after a gun was found in his carry-on luggage, officials confirmed Wednesday.
“Chief Chitwood was escorted from the checkpoint to safely secure his weapon before he was allowed to board his flight,” Orlando police said in a statement. The chief was not arrested and is not facing charges.
OPD noted that sworn officers are permitted to travel armed, if they complete the TSA’s Law Enforcement Officers Flying Armed program.
However, officers can only carry on weapons under that program if they “need to have the weapon accessible,” determined on a case-by-case basis, the TSA website states.
Chitwood’s boss, City Manager James Chisholm, said Chitwood is human “like all the rest of us,” adding it was “certainly no cause for us to take any action against the chief.”
Chitwood said the situation resulted from a “stupid oversight” on his part. He said he changed in his department’s locker room after work, before driving to OIA to catch a flight to New Jersey to visit family.
He said he had two bags, one for work clothes and another for civilian clothes. Changing hurriedly, he put his ankle holster and the Remington revolver it held in the wrong bag, he said.
He said officers were “extremely professional,” securing the gun, interviewing him and eventually clearing him to board his flight.
“Outside of being absolutely embarrassed, I thought: ‘I’m getting locked up!'” Chitwood said, recalling his judgmental reaction to stories of others who’ve mistakenly brought guns to the airport.
“I’ve read these things and I’ve always said… ‘How stupid could you be to do that?'”