Loaded Handgun Belonging to Westford Cop Found in Recycling Bin

December 29, 2017 GMT

CHELMSFORD -- A Waste Management worker found more than the usual bottles, cans and junk mail in the recycling bin of a resident -- who is also a Westford police officer -- during curbside pickup Wednesday morning.

According to Deputy Police Chief Dan Ahern, the recycling worker immediately called police upon discovering a loaded Smith & Wesson .40-caliber handgun in the bin on Pine Hill Road.

Chelmsford police notified Westford police of the discovery when they found the gun belonged to Westford Officer Derek Hartley, Ahern said.

Ahern said the firearm was returned to Hartley, who was unaware that it had found its way into the bin.

“Inadvertently and unbeknownst to him, it was dropped into the recycling bin in his home,” Ahern said.

He said it appears the indoor recycling bin was kept adjacent to Hartley’s gun safe. At some point, the gun must have fallen out of the safe and into the bin before its contents were transferred to an outside recycling bin, Ahern said.


Hartley’s wife was home at the time and identified it the weapon her husband’s, Ahern said. He said the handgun is a personal weapon, not a police-issued service gun.

Ahern called it an “isolated, strange incident.”

“Fortunately, the person who recovered the gun notified us right away, was familiar with firearms and was able to return it to a safe place,” he said.

Ahern said Hartley also notified his supervisors at the Westford Police Department, who are investigating the incident.

Westford Police Chief Thomas McEnaney, Chelmsford Recycling & Solid Waste Coordinator Nick Parlee and a Waste Management spokesman could not immediately be reached Friday morning.

There was no answer at Hartley’s door when a reporter visited the property Friday, about 8:30 a.m.

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