A resolution that would allow the Warren County Animal Control and Adoption Center director to carry a firearm while on duty is being sent back to committee following some questions.
At the County Commission meeting Monday night, commissioners were scheduled to vote on a resolution that would allow Animal Control director Sherri Bradley to carry a firearm. The resolution would allow her to carry while on duty on county property. She would have to comply with any other state and federal law regarding firearms, be in full compliance with any other regulation regarding a person’s legal capacity to carry a firearm and undergo annual firearms training before the authorization is permitted.
Some commissioners had questions regarding the resolution.
“I would like for our county attorney to give us an opinion on if this would be legal or a liability for the county and just give his picture of it,” said Commissioner Tommy Savage.
Attorney Robert Bratcher said the regulation of firearms is a state function and the county can not change it. This resolution would just be removing the prohibition from the Policy and Personnel manual.
“What we are doing is simply removing from the Policy and Personnel manual. As to the question of whether or not the person having a firearm on them on duty, sure there is absolutely a potential for some type of liability. The best way to try and counter that is to have the training that is required by this resolution annually. There is no way to completely disconnect liability from someone carrying a firearm. It is incomprehensible that it could ever be done,” said Bratcher.
“I was going to ask Commissioner Wilcher, in the resolution it states annual firearm training. To what degree is that training? Is it going to be the same as a deputy?” asked Commissioner Brad Hillis.
“It is unclear in the resolution. It would be the County Executive’s call to determine what is sufficient for that. It would not be the same training done for a police officer because part of their training is obviously to deescalate situations with other human beings. Mostly the training is for someone to get the same training for a conceal carry permit which are no longer needed in Tennessee. It is just firearms training where there would be no accidental discharge,” answered Bratcher.
“I am not against someone carrying, I just wonder why now?” asked Hillis.
“What brought this up is basically the inmate program that we started. It did come up during discussion that our director already has a conceal carry permit and, obviously with the inmate program, safety is a factor and that would be another safety measure she would have as a director to carry the firearm that she is legally able to carry in the state of Tennessee,” said Wilcher.
Commissioner Carl Bouldin said Wilcher’s statement raised more questions and asked Sheriff Matheny Jr. how many “jailers” would be at animal control with the inmates and if they would be armed. Matheny said there would be two and they would be armed.
“Now she doesn’t need it for the inmates then. And I am pretty sure you are against shooting dogs so I just don’t see why she needs it,” said Bouldin.
“I think if we are going to do this then she should fall under the guidelines of the sheriff because he has programs for special deputies and he authorizes that. We do not need to pass this. So I make a motion that we send this back to committee and they work with the sheriff and rewrite this,” said Commissioner Michael Bell.
Commissioner Steven Helton asked Matheny his thoughts on deputizing and he said he would have to research and think on it. The commission then voted to send the resolution back to committee. Before casting his vote, Wilcher made a statement.
“Before I vote, I want to make sure I do clarify something because I am glad to take this back to committee if we need to. I don’t think it is necessary, but we do not want to put any animal down. Everybody that knows me knows that. I don’t have to say that, but I do want you to know that our animal control director has the right to carry a weapon, like a lot of us do, and she can use it in the case of emergency. I do want you to know that and I vote no,” said Wilcher.
The motion to send it back to committee passed 21 to two with Steve Glenn and Wilcher voting no.