A move to give police at state mental hospitals such as Atascadero State Hospital the freedom to carry guns has exposed a rare rift between two state employee unions over workplace safety.
Without guns, the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association says, the officers they represent at five mental hospitals are in grave danger when transporting patients, patrolling hospital grounds and conducting traffic stops.
Current law leaves it to the departments to decide whether those police and others at four developmental centers can pack a gun. None do.
Now their union is backing legislation that would arm them just like the state’s other law enforcement officers.
“We’re just looking for some parity,” CSLEA lobbyist Coby Pizzotti said during a recent Assembly committee hearing on the matter.
If that happens, it would boost the status of the 800 or so police currently prohibited from carrying firearms on duty and, a legislative analysis concludes, could end up boosting their pay and benefits, too. Read more at sacbee.com »