Unions Clash Over Arming Hospital Officers

CALIFORNIA — Two California state employee unions are at odds over whether police at state mental hospitals should be allowed to carry guns.

The California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, which represents officers at five mental hospitals, said that the officers are placed in dangerous situations that require them to be armed. The California Association of Psychiatric Technicians claims that allowing guns on hospital grounds is unnecessary and goes against the hospitals’ therapeutic mission, The Sacramento Bee reports. The law allows the department to decide whether officers can carry guns — none currently do.

Safety concerns — such as the 2010 murder of psychiatric technician Donna Gross at Napa State Hospital — have spawned a coalition that has protested hospital conditions. However, the psychiatric technicians association that is part of the coalition has drawn the line at arming officers.

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