Published: 1:00 pm, Wed. Apr. 20th, 2016Updated: 9:08 pm
As of Tuesday’s meeting of the Eddy County Commission, county employees are now allowed to carry concealed weapons on their person while at work.
The commissioners approved Resolution R-16-28, a Concealed Carry by Employees policy presented by County Manager Rick Rudometkin Tuesday morning after much discussion about gun safety, self-defense, the Second Amendment, and Article II, Section 6, of the New Mexico Constitution.
“More and more agencies are embracing policies that recognize the employee’s individual right to bear arms,” said Rudometkin. “Examples of agencies include Chaves County, Luna County, Otero County, the City of Colorado Springs, and many other agencies around the country.”
According to the Concealed Carry by Employees policy, employees who hold a valid license to carry a concealed weapon (CCW) may carry a concealed weapon in the course of employment, which includes operating vehicles owned by Eddy County. The policy also states that in order to carry a concealed weapon in the course of employment, the employee must notify their supervisor and the county manager in writing that the employee holds a valid CCW license and intends to carry the weapon using the Eddy County form approved for that purpose.
An employee whose valid CCW license is suspended, revoked, made invalid, or who is otherwise prohibited by a court from carrying a weapon will have to notify the employee’s supervisor and county manager of that in writing, as well. Conduct in violation of the policy is punishable by discipline up to and including termination.
“I believe we have a great policy, probably one of the best ones I’ve seen,” said Rudometkin. “I’ve talked with the sheriff’s department in depth about it; they’ve made their recommendations and have made changes to the policy themselves.”
According to Rudometkin, the ultimate goal of the policy is to maintain the safety of employees of the county.
“The right to bear arms is in our Constitution and our state’s constitution as well,” said Rudometkin. “With a valid concealed weapon permit, I think there could be some very good things that happen because of that.”
Representatives with the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office offered their opinions and comments before the commission voted.
“If they choose to engage, if they shoot somebody, they will be charged just like our officers,” said Scott London, county sheriff. “They go through a process with the DA, the gun is logged into evidence, and it’s a whole process they have to go through, but like we say in law enforcement all the time, it’s better to be tried by 12 than carried by six.”
Each commissioner had their own qualms with the policy, but ultimately, the resolution was unanimously approved.
“When this was first brought up, I had a lot of reservations,” said Commissioner Stella Davis. “What happens when an employee goes berserk? But I’ve talked with fellow commissioners and now feel a lot better about this; I’m not 100 percent, but I do see the benefits. Everybody should be allowed to exercise their Second Amendment rights.”
In other business Tuesday, the commissioners approved a check run approval list and purchase card approval list for March.
The commissioners also voted to approve up to $12,500 to assist with the Household Hazardous Waste Collection happening April 30 in Carlsbad, an event which collects household hazardous waste to properly dispose of it. Household hazardous waste includes, but is not limited to, electronics, pesticides, motor oil, fluorescent light bulbs, and anti-freeze. The event, which will take place in the beach parking lot, is free for residents of the county. For more information on the Household Hazardous Waste Collection, contact Richard Aguilar with the City of Carlsbad’s Environmental Services Department at 575-887-5412.
Also covered at the meeting was the Queen Volunteer Fire Department’s request to replace the water tanks in the unincorporated community, as there is no recognized water supply and no fire hydrants in the area. The commissioners approved the Queen VFD to utilize existing State Fire Funds and Queen Fire Excise Funds to replace the current tanks with a single, 42,000-gallon tank that will be tied into their existing well and water distribution.