Assembly Bill 2623, authored by Santa Rosa Democratic Assemblyman Michael Allen, cleared the lower chamber on 71-0 vote Thursday.
The measure requires the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Developmental Services to develop a policy for arming state hospital peace officers are working outside the secure area of the hospital.
That's not much different than current law, which leaves it to the departments to decide whether those 800 or so cops can carry a weapon on the job. None do.
An earlier draft of AB 2623 sought to arm state hospital police just like other cops or correctional officers. The California Association of Psychiatric Technicians opposed that version of bill, concerned that firearms--particularly in secure treatment areas of facilities--aren't conducive to hospitals' therapeutic mission. Still, the union left the door open for compromise.
The version that recently cleared the Assembly dials back its original intent. Still, CSLEA celebrated the Assembly vote in a memo to members on Thursday, noting that this is "the first time the two-decades-long goal made it this far."
Here's an example from the bill language that illustrates how it was changed:
First version: Those peace officers shall carry firearms while performing assigned functions outside of the secure treatment area of the hospital.
Amended version: Those peace officers may carry firearms while performing assigned functions outside of the secure treatment area of the hospital only if authorized under the terms and conditions specified by their employing agency. By June 30, 2013, the State Department of Mental Health and the State Department of Development Services shall each develop a policy for arming state hospital peace officers under their jurisdiction while those officers are performing hospital security functions outside of the secure area of the hospital. Each department shall implement its policy by January 1, 2014.
PHOTO: CSLEA President Alan Barcelona / courtesy CSLEA