Oregon Corrections Officers Want To Bring Personal Guns To Work

By Chris Lehman

SALEM, Ore. – Corrections officers in Oregon say they need the option of being armed while they commute to and from work. Lawmakers are considering a measure to overturn a rule that bans corrections officers from bringing personal guns to the grounds of state prisons.

The 2009 personal gun rule applies to employees and visitors at most state buildings. More than a dozen lawmakers have signed onto a bill that would allow corrections officers to bring their personal weapons with them to work, as long as they leave them in a locked gun box inside their vehicle. Jeff Coffman guards prisoners at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton. He says officers like him stick out like a sore thumb on their way to work--especially to released cons holding a grudge.

Jeff Coffman: "We don't have a dressing room. We don't have a place to change into our clothing. So we basically have to wear our clothing, our uniforms, to and from work."

One of Coffman's fellow officers, Buddy Herron, was killed on his way to work in 2011. A man with a long criminal record was charged with murder. The Oregon Department of Corrections hasn't taken a position on the proposal. Neither has the Oregon Department of Administrative Services, which enacted the ban in the first place.

On the web:

Oregon House Bill 2910: http://www.leg.state.or.us/13reg/measpdf/hb2900.dir/hb2910.intro.pdf

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