The county bars employees from having guns, even if they have a concealed carry license, on county property. But Williams said under state law citizens are allowed to bring guns on to county property, but must leave them in their cars.
“There should be no difference between a public employee and a private citizen,” Williams said.
Commissioner Lori Kokoski said she hadn’t been aware of the policy until recently, but she doesn’t object to changing it.
“I don’t see any harm in it, as long as it’s locked up in their glove box or trunk or wherever and not brought into the building,” she said.
But Commissioner Ted Kalo said he doesn’t support Williams’ proposal.
“I don’t think there’s any reason to allow the employees to have guns on the property,” he said.
Williams is a Republican. Kokoski and Kalo are both Democrats.
Kalo said the idea of allowing county employees to keep guns in their cars comes after one county worker had a gun stolen from his personal truck earlier this year.
CountyAdministrator Jim Cordes said county maintenance worker Richard Reiman was reprimanded for bringing the gun to work and leaving it in the truck. Williams said Reiman said he wasn’t aware of the policy barring him from keeping a gun in his vehicle.
Reiman was placed on paid leave in 2009 after allegedly threatening to shoot the commissioners. Although Kokoski had wanted to leave Reiman off work longer because an investigation wasn’t completed, the other two commissioners at the time, Kalo and the now-retired Betty Blair, voted to bring him back because it came down to Reiman’s word against the other county worker who leveled the accusation.
Reiman was suspended for 30 days in 2008 for making a noose and hanging it in the Maintenance Department, where several workers, including a black county employee, saw it and took offense. Reiman later said he made a mistake.
Williams, who said he doesn’t have a concealed carry permit although he’s taken the class required to get one, said he doesn’t think county workers keeping guns in their private vehicles will increase the likelihood of workplace violence.
He also said it likely wouldn’t increase the risk of someone breaking into cars in search of weapons because there would be no way for a would-be thief to know if a gun was in a glove compartment or a trunk.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.