Following the recent surge in deadly violence involving police forces across the US, a sheriff in southwest Ohio has encouraged civilians on his staff to bring their weapons to work. According to the Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News, Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones is urging his civilian staff to “exercise some extra caution” concerning their personal safety, and in a memo to full-time and part-time staff and volunteers, Jones urged those with a valid Ohio CCW License to carry their weapon within the department’s headquarters at 705 Hanover St. in Hamilton.
He also encouraged employees to carry their weapon while operating any department vehicle away from the headquarters.
The memo — which was directed to office-type personnel, not deputies — came Friday after recent attacks against police officers across the country over the past two weeks. In the memo, Jones also urged employees to plan their attire appropriately and carry their weapon discreetly when in public view. Anyone entering the correctional facility must secure their weapon
As the Journal-News adds, personnel must adhere to all CCW guidelines when off-premises, including observation of posted signs on any businesses, banks and government buildings prohibiting concealed carry, he wrote.
Chief Deputy Anthony Dwyer, 53, who has been in law enforcement for 32 years, said officers are trained to “take an account of what’s around” them when they’re in public. But after years in law enforcement, he said, it’s easy for officers to become complacent. “It does fade,” he said of the training.
But the recent attacks against police officers has brought that technique “back to the forefront,” Dwyer said. “You have to pay attention now more so than ever,” he said.
Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw agreed. He said it’s up to the supervisors, but some officers are riding two to a cruiser during certain shifts. “They play it by ear,” Muterspaw said of the policy.
He has told his officers to never consider any call “routine.” There are no such calls in the police department, he said. “You always have to be observant,” he said. “Look and see what’s around that car. You just never know. You have no way of knowing who you are stopping.”
Following the shooting of police officers nationwide, Muterspaw said his department has received tremendous support from the Middletown community. He said residents have delivered food, cards and letters to the police station. That is the result of community policing, he said.
“I’m really proud of our outreach in the community,” he said. “We have stepped it up. We work with our community. We have gotten to know them. That’s huge. That makes a difference in every town.”
Dwyer and Muterspaw are concerned that public opinions are shaped by several second-long clips reveal only one side of the story: they said that social media has changed people’s perspective of law enforcement officers. They said people are taping interactions with police officers with their cell phones, then broadcasting the videos, sometimes only a few seconds in length, on the Internet. They said those who watch the videos, then react to what they see, sometimes without knowing the entire story.
“Social media has changed everything,” Muterspaw said. “They see five seconds and they’re ready to charge and convict. Everybody is a lawyer because they have a cell phone.” But Muterspaw realizes there are times when officers are shown acting inappropriately. “We have to do a better job and if every cop doesn’t believe that, they shouldn’t be in the business,” Muterspaw said. “We don’t always do right. When a bad cop does something wrong, that is negative for every good cop. Good cops shouldn’t mind being under the microscope.”
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