Last Thursday, the Assembly voted 71-0 to approve a bill (AB 2623) -- by Assembly member Michael Allen (D-Santa Rosa) -- that would require state officials to develop policies for arming state hospital peace officers working outside of the secure area of a hospital, the Sacramento Bee's "The State Worker" reports.
The bill now moves to Senate for consideration (Ortiz, "State Worker," Sacramento Bee, 6/1).
Current law allows the California Department of Mental Health to authorize officers at the state's five mental hospitals to carry guns. However, acting directors at the agency never have allowed it.
The bill has drawn opposition from the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians. The group argues that allowing guns on hospital grounds is unnecessary and hazardous, in addition to being contrary to hospitals' therapeutic mission (California Healthline, 5/14).
Assembly Passes Amended Bill
The Assembly cleared an amended version of the bill that states that "peace officers may carry firearms while performing assigned functions outside of the secure treatment area of the hospital." The original version of the bill had stated that "peace officers shall carry firearms" outside of the secure treatment area.
According to the amended bill, the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Developmental Services each would have to develop a policy for arming officers in its jurisdiction. If the legislation is approved, the policies would have to be developed by June 30, 2013, and implemented by Jan. 1, 2014 ("The State Worker," Sacramento Bee, 6/4).