ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County’s liability insurance provider wants the county commission to adopt a policy prohibiting non-law enforcement employees from carrying guns on the job.
Becky Brock from the Local Government Insurance Pool told the Hawkins County Commission’s Public Safety Committee Friday that before July 1 the commission needs to make it a matter of policy that the only county employees allowed to carry a firearm while on the job are law enforcement employees.
“Law enforcement are going to carry guns, we know that exposure, we know how to rate for that, and statutes protect them from certain liability when they do shoot somebody,” Brock told the committee. “What we found out was that everybody else was carrying guns. The highway department people, just lots of county employees out there carrying guns. It was to the point that if they shot somebody and they got sued it would take away your governmental immunity.”
Brock added, “If they were to shoot somebody, and the county didn’t proactively make sure they understood that they can’t carry a gun, then there’s a negligence there that would remove the immunity.”
On Sunday the Times-News contacted the two Hawkins County department heads who send the most non-law enforcement employees out into public.
Hawkins County Highway Superintendent Lowell Bean said he doesn’t carry a firearm on the job, and his employees are also prohibited from carrying guns on the job.
“I’ve got a sign (at the highway department office) that says no firearms on county property,” Bean said. “None of us carry guns, even the ones who have permits. If they carry them, they’re concealed in their (personal) vehicle or somewhere that we don’t know about.”For an expanded version of this article, please see Monday's print edition or our expanded electronic edition.