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Concealed carry vote for Ogle County employees raises concerns

Some worry workers now ‘sitting ducks’

OREGON – Pat Saunders is concerned about what a new concealed carry policy means for Ogle County employees.

“It makes them sitting ducks,” Saunders, of Polo, said.

Saunders was one of seven Ogle County Board members to vote against the policy, passed June 17.

The state’s concealed carry law allows no one except law enforcement officials to bring concealed weapons into public buildings, including courthouses and municipal buildings.

The board’s vote brought county personnel policy in line with that law.

Board member Lyle Hopkins, of Polo, called the state law “dumb.”

“Marking these buildings is the stupidest thing,” Hopkins said during the meeting, referring to the law, which requires signs showing a gun with a red circle through it to notify people that guns are not allowed inside the building.

He said criminals can target these buildings because they know the employees and customers do not have a gun.

Ron Colson, a board member from Mount Morris, concurred.

“I think we have county officials in a threatening position,” he said.

Some board members wanted to write their own policy.

“It bothers me that we adopt something written by Democrats in Chicago,” Saunders said. “Can we make changes to this?”

“We can develop one for Ogle County,” board member Skip Kenney of Rochelle said. “I think the personnel committee can sit down and develop a policy better suited for our county.”

But Bill Welty, a board member from Chana, said, “this is state law.”

He explained the law to the board.

“Concealed carry allows loaded handguns in a car in any parking lot,” he said. “I cannot exit the vehicle with a loaded weapon on county property.”

The concealed carry law allows a registered gun owner with a proper license to drive through parks, county, and school property. The gun also can be kept in a vehicle, as long as it remains locked.

State’s Attorney Mike Rock said some employees could be authorized to carry a weapon.

“You have to decide as a board,” he said. “This follows state statute. I don’t like the way it is written. We can’t give employees more of a right than the state statue.”

The board voted down Kenney’s request to delay the vote for 30 days. It then approved the policy by a 15-7 vote.

How they voted

Here's how members of the Ogle County Board voted on a concealed carry policy for county employees:

Yes (15)

Dorothy Bowers, Jerry Brooks, Bobbie Colbert, John Finfrock, Kim Gouker, Don Griffin, Rich Gronewold, Marcia Heuer, Lyle Hopkins, Dan Janes, Patricia Nordman, John O'Brien, Ashley Simms, Greg Sparrow, and Bill Welty.

No (7)

Ron Colson, Skip Kenney, Kim Kirklis, Lee Meyers, Zachary Oltmanns, Dick Petrizzo, and Pat Saunders.

Absent (2)

Marty Typer and Bruce McKinney.

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