Platte County workers can now carry handguns

Civilian county employees will now be able to carry firearms at most county facilities and while on the job in the field.

County attorney Bob Shaw presented an amendment to long-standing county policy at the Platte County Commission’s Monday, Aug. 19 administrative session.

As of the unanimous approval at the meeting, civilian county employees will be able to carry their firearms while on duty in county facilities, with the exception of within the Platte County Community Centers. The amendment does not clear the general public to carry firearms into county facilities. Peace officers, as always, are exempt from this rule.

In November 2017, second district commissioner John Elliott floated the idea of allowing weapons in county facilities, citing concerns about averting mass shootings. Meetings between the commission, sheriff’s department and others regarding tweaking the county code started in late 2017.

On Monday, first district commissioner Dagmar Wood said she appreciated the change, especially to give public works employees in the field the ability to protect themselves.

“They are out and about in these rural areas, maybe after hours, working on snow removal or whatever and I support them having the opportunity to defend themselves if something bad were to happen,” she said.

This was a sentiment echoed by director of public works Bob Heim, who said even in the public works office workers have twice in recent memory had concerns about threats from potentially violent members of the public.

“This is not something where we’re looking to be a secondary police force, but it gives us the ability to defend ourselves when we’re pushed into a corner,” he said.

He said while he often tries to schedule his employees to work in groups, sometimes they end up alone in isolated areas.

Also at the meeting, the county moved forward with plans to replace bridges on Lamar Road, at Kirk Bottoms and on Bee Creek. Engineering services contracts for two of the three projects were approved and commissioners entered into agreements with the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission for federal funding to assist in the replacement of all three bridges.