SACRAMENTO — “They’re dressed like deputies, they drive police vehicles with police lights,” but the public safety officers who guard the Yountville Veterans Home, where a gunman killed three hostages Friday, are not armed, said Ryan Navarre.
“Local law enforcement counts on our officers, who are unarmed, to be the primary security for thousands of people on grounds,” said Navarre, who is with the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association.
CSLEA represents 7,000 law enforcement professionals. Navarre said 600 of their peace officers who work at similar residential campuses, those managed by the Department of State Hospitals and the Department of Developmental Services, are also unarmed.
“There’s something wrong with that,” Navarre said.
He said they’ve been trying to change that for years, legislating in an attempt to arm those officers by using Penal Code 830.37.
“It would grant the department the authority in the penal code to arm them,” Navarre said.
But the penal code says that’s “only if authorized and under the terms and conditions specified by their employing agency.” Nevarre said the Department of Veterans Affairs chooses not to arm the officers at Yountville.
“Many state administrators are afraid to talk firearms,” he told FOX40.
But Hector Alvarez is not. FOX40 asked the security expert if having armed officers on site could have changed the outcome of the hostage situation.
“The right person, with the right equipment and the right authority, can make a dramatic difference,” he said.
FOX40 also asked if arming those officers would pose a significant risk when veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and other patients in crisis could gain access to those service weapons.
“The answer to that question is, yes it creates those problems. But there are ways to do that correctly,” Alvarez said.