Retired Officer Charged With Misdemeanor for Handgun Possession

Posted December 3, 2003 at 11:48am

A former Capitol Police sergeant was arrested when she attempted to enter the Ford House Office Building with a handgun.

Tomi Finkle was arrested Nov. 20 and charged with attempted carrying a pistol without a license, a misdemeanor. The District of Columbia’s Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975 essentially bans the ownership of handguns in the city (guns registered before February 1977 are permitted), with the exception of police officers or military personnel.

According to a police report on the incident, Capitol Police stationed at the Ford Building’s Second Street entrance stopped Finkle around 2:50 p.m. after noticing the image of a gun on an X-ray machine monitor.

“Upon completing the admin[istrative] search, noticed what appeared to be a handgun. After searching handbag, located the handgun,” the report states.

Officers arrested Finkle, 48, and confiscated the gun and two rounds of ammunition.

Finkle, who retired from the force in March, said she wasn’t aware she had the gun with her when she arrived at the Ford Building to pick up several 175th anniversary badges she had purchased from the law-enforcement agency.

“I didn’t realize it was in there,” Finkle said. “I had just changed purses and I didn’t know it was there. [The officers] had to do two inspections because they couldn’t find it.

“It sounds terrible being a retired officer, you didn’t know a gun was in a purse, but I didn’t know it was there,” she added.

One officer familiar with the arrest criticized the decision to charge Finkle with an attempted offense, rather than with the full charge for carrying a pistol without a license, which would be a felony and carry stricter penalties.

“It’s not like somebody who just didn’t know [the law],” the officer said, noting the misdemeanor offense is most often used for out-of-state visitors or officers who are not familiar with D.C.’s gun ban.

But Finkle contends that retired officers are often allowed to enter Capitol office buildings with firearms so along as the weapons are placed in storage while the retirees are inside in the buildings.

“There are police commanders in the department currently who simply secure retired officers’ weapons and let them go about their business, that has been a past practice on Capitol Hill,” said Finkle.

Finkle, a transgender woman who was born a male and known as Thomas Finkle prior to retiring from the Capitol Police, now volunteers in the Metropolitan Police Department’s Auxiliary Service and is assigned to the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit. She has also taught diversity awareness courses for the Capitol Police Department.

According to MPD’s Web site, Finkle also works with Maryland’s Search and Rescue mounted unit and is a member of the Maryland Search Team Task Force. A message left for Finkle at MPD’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit was not returned.

The charges are being processed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office but a trial date has not been set.