New Philadelphia, Ohio - The Tuscarawas County Job and Family Services officials are hoping to improve security at their New Philadelphia office with a new employee concealed-carry initiative.
Director David Haverfield says the plan approved Monday by county commissioners will allow them to authorize select employees to carry concealed weapons while working in the building. He says the hope is that this will make the building more secure for JFS employees and visitors to the building.
“This is being done really as a safety measure for our staff and employees. We’ve seen over the last couple of years an escalation in people coming into our building that are angry or upset, who could be carrying weapons, who could be threatening staff and those sort of things,” he explains. “This was really a staff-led initiative. The staff came forward and said could we consider this.”
Haverfield says they’ll be doing this is in collaboration with the Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Office to make sure they choose the right people and give them the proper training.
“Really, we put in place a pretty comprehensive system where employees that are interested must have a concealed carry license. They’re going to let me know if they’re interested, and then we’re going to go through a vetting process with the commissioners and the sheriff to make sure that not only are they proficient with a handgun but also that they have the right temperament and character to be somebody that’s not going to draw a weapon willy-nilly, that’s not going to overreact,” he says.
Sheriff Orvis Campbell says the select staff members will also receive ongoing hands-on training to make sure they know exactly what to do during an emergency situation.
“In the beginning, we’ll have some training that is based off of just making sure that they’re competent and qualified with their weapon. It’ll be an ongoing thing,” he says. “Periodically, I pay for and bring in a private company that does some very realistic force-on-force training with law enforcement in a scenario where you interact with a screen, big screens. This is something I’ll be able to include them in. We’ll be able to schedule them to come in and do some of those same scenarios.”
Campbell says they plan to move forward with this quickly but cautiously.
“David and I agree completely on one point in that we will not certify anybody we don’t think is safe, no matter how badly it hurts their feelings, and we will not have any problem revoking their ability to carry if they display something that is counter to the behavior and attitude they should have when doing this,” he says.
Haverfield says they also considered hiring a security guard but decided this initiative would be cheaper and more effective.
“We did talk about hiring somebody to do security, and we certainly looked at that avenue,” he says. “This is certainly more cost-effective but at the end of the day in talking to the sheriff, you know if you put one person out in the front and somebody comes in and hurts them, then you’re kind of helpless, so we really thought this was a better way for us in our situation with our building to kind of ensure safety. That was the most important thing.”
Haverfield says their next step will be to figure which staff members have an interest in doing this and whether it makes sense to have them armed.
STACEY CARMANY, TUSCO TV