In Governor Jerry Brown’s September 30, 2012 veto message for AB 2623 (a bill that would have required Department of State Hospitals to adopt and implement a policy to arm state hospital police officers), he explained his sensitivity to the unique challenges hospital police officers (HPOs) face when performing security at the state’s mental hospitals. Governor Brown did not reject the notion of arming HPOs, but instead left the matter to the Director of State Hospitals, who already has the authority under Penal Code 830.38 to arm HPOs.
After overwhelming legislative support for AB 2623 and the disappointing, yet encouraging, veto message from the Governor, the next step was to initiate discussions with Department of State Hospitals (DSH) Director Cliff Allenby. On December 20, 2012, CSLEA met with Director Allenby and his staff to discuss the concept of arming HPOs when performing patrol and transportation functions outside the secure treatment areas of the state hospitals.
Attending from CSLEA was President Alan Barcelona, Chief Counsel/General Manager Kasey Clark, Lobbyist Craig Brown, HPAC President Luis Jimenez, Senior Legal Counsel Dave De La Riva, and Legal Counsel Ryan Navarre. CSLEA explained to Director Allenby the urgent need for HPOs to be provided an industry standard firearm while patrolling state grounds outside the treatment areas of the hospitals, performing traffic enforcement, and transporting incarcerated forensic patients off grounds and into the community. CSLEA emphasized that the patient population at the state hospitals is becoming much more dangerous and transporting such patients into the community with an unarmed HPO presents a significant health and safety hazard for the officers, patients, and the communities surrounding the state hospitals.
Director Allenby, who has been serving as the interim Director for approximately 2 years, is very aware of the ever more dangerous patient population and said he is committed to working with CSLEA on this issue. CSLEA is encouraged by Director Allenby’s knowledge of the duties, responsibilities, and equipment of Corrections Officers performing similar medical transports.
The productive meeting concluded with Director Allenby agreeing to consider creating a committee of CSLEA and DSH representatives to discuss the concept of arming HPOs in clearly defined circumstances. The committee would create policy that is transparent so it can be understood by other interest groups.
AB 2623 was the furthest this issue has ever gotten legislatively. After the December 20th meeting with Director Allenby, the Department is no longer immediately dismissing the concept of arming HPOs when performing certain functions. Instead, DSH appears interested in working with CSLEA to vet the concept further. CSLEA is encouraged and optimistically awaits Director Allenby’s response