County may amend policy on hostile acts
Some department heads ask for ban on open-carry weapons
A Mesa County policy on threatening behavior in county buildings is getting a second look five months after its adoption.
Mesa County commissioners in January passed a workplace safety resolution stating, “Communication or behavior that might be reasonably interpreted to be threatening, hostile, or offensive will not be tolerated.” The policy also bans “unauthorized weapons” from county buildings.
Mesa County Director of Human Services Tracey Garchar and Health Department Director Jeff Kuhr met with Mesa County commissioners Tuesday to request that the board consider adopting an additional policy that would prohibit people who seek services at health or human services offices from carrying weapons or being hostile to employees or other clients at those offices. Garchar said his desire for a new policy stemmed from a recent incident that involved a man taking a class to secure food assistance acting aggressively and openly carrying a gun. Garchar said the incident made the teacher of the class uncomfortable and could have stirred trouble in a room of 30 to 35 people, likely some of whom have been victims of violence, he said.
“Our goal is not to refuse service; our goal here is to create a safe, welcoming environment for everybody who comes in,” Garchar said.
When questioned by commissioners about the frequency of such incidents, Garchar said worrisome incidents with open carry weapons have happened a couple times in the Department of Human Services building within the last 12 years. He said it’s hard to tell how many times a person has had a concealed weapon in county buildings and he’s not sure how many times exactly employees have been threatened with violence.
Garchar said his true problem is with open carry of weapons in a threatening manner, prompting Commissioner Rose Pugliese to suggest the board review its workplace safety resolution at a meeting with the acting county attorney and consider strengthening that policy’s stance on employees not tolerating aggressive behavior from citizens and having the right to ask such people to leave. County Administrator Tom Fisher suggested the policy be posted in all county buildings instead of singling out human services and health department facilities.
Pugliese said she is not personally a fan of open carry but would not be in favor of a policy banning the practice. She added she would prefer that the sentence about weapons be erased from the workplace safety resolution to clarify that point.