A county sheriff in southwest Ohio is reportedly encouraging his non-commissioned staffers who have carry licenses to pack their sidearms at the office, according to WLWT and the Associated Press.
The Hamilton Journal-News also noted that Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones encourages those same employees “to carry their weapon while operating any department vehicle away from the headquarters.”
This comes in response to recent attacks on law enforcement that have cost the lives of several police officers. The Associated Press story quoted a memo Sheriff Jones sent to all non-commissioned employees:
Everyone should exercise some extra caution at this time concerning their own personal safety.”
The sheriff also advised employees to “plan their attire appropriately and carry their weapon discreetly when in public view.”
Support among newspaper readers appears to be very strong, but not unanimous. Some readers contend that the sheriff’s suggestion is a violation of the state carry law. Others argue that Jones is acting within his authority as sheriff, and that the policy is for department employees.
Jones told WXIS in Cincinnati that he issued the memo after one of his civilian employees was threatened with a gun while driving their personal vehicle. He suggested the threat came because the employee had a Fraternal Order of Police emblem on the car’s license plate.
While it is not unusual for sheriffs and even some police chiefs to encourage private citizens to “arm up” for their personal protection, this may be something new.
Commissioned deputies apparently did not get the memo, which was reportedly written only for the non-commissioned department employees and volunteers. Those staffers who do decide to carry defensive sidearms must comply with all state carry laws when outside the building, published reports said.
Law enforcement agencies across the country are on alert following the ambush shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge, and attacks on individual officers in Missouri and Milwaukee, Wis.