Butler County officials are taking all steps possible to make sure conceal carry guns are not allowed in the district court or Butler County Jail.
The Butler County Commissioners have been looking at the new bill requiring adequate security for a municipal building in order to not allow guns.
"The law says the judge can no longer decide if someone can bring a gun into the courtroom, now the legislature can," said Chief Judge David Ricke, adding that the law may be unconstitutional.
Ricke addressed the Commission with his concerns and the action he is going to take to protect the court rooms and court personnel.
"We are the exception, not the rule when it comes to courthouse security," he said of Butler County compared to the three-county area of Butler, Greenwood and Elk counties. "We are state of the art.
"I would ask first, has the Commission or its representatives already taken the steps to apply for the six-month exemption for the Judicial Center or others in the county?"
He asked if they were applying for the exemption from the law which takes effect July 1, then the judicial center be included.
"Somebody believed if you don't have armed guards in a courtroom and you have business taking place, they don't feel safe," Ricke said. "The rationale is everyone who wants to pack gets to pack. I don't want to get caught in a cross fire between an assailant and someone trying to defend themselves. It mentally escapes me as to why they thought this was necessary."
He said there are some courthouses in Kansas that are completely unguarded and that may be why it was passed.
The law does allow the chief judge of a district to enter orders against handguns in courtrooms or ancillary courtrooms. Ricke said he will use his administrative order as chief judge to limit some areas of the building and he will use that power to limit all areas in the judicial center with the exception of the county attorney's office. This also does not apply to court security.
"I'm going to issue this order," Ricke said. "It's another layer for this issue that we need to protect our courtrooms."
While the county has great security at the judicial center now, there is not a written plan for security in place, and Will Johnson, county administrator, said that was not something they could put together by July 1, which was why they were seeking the exemption so they could get that created.
"There is always a concern when there is a new act and how it will be interpreted and carried out," Ricke said.
He said they just want to make sure they are in compliance.
Page 2 of 2 - Later in their meeting, the Commissioners discussed their personnel policy regarding conceal carry.
Johnson had drafted a policy outlining if a person does not have a permit they are not allowed to carry in any county facility. If they do have a permit, they can carry as long as the gun remains on their premise in a concealed fashion other than in the detention facility or judicial center.
Those wanting to carry, will be required to provide human resources with a copy of the conceal carry permit and sign off they have read the personnel policy.
Johnson said employees are not allowed to leave the gun off of their premise, such as leave a gun in a drawer or leave it in a purse unattended. For field workers, it states workers must provide a gun safe in which they can leave the gun when entering a facility where they cannot take it.
Commissioner Peggy Palmer had a concern about the requirements included in allowing conceal carry and didn't know if they could make someone purchase a gun safe.
"That's my biggest concern is unsecured firearms," Johnson said. "Somebody finds it, or they leave it over night. Keep it on your premise, that is the intent of the policy."
Johnson will write a resolution regarding the issue which they will vote on Tuesday, as well as be presented with the letter for exemption to the Kansas law.
In other business, the commission:
• tabled a lease agreement between Butler Community College and Butler County for a tower site contract.
• held a work session on the budget, where they heard requests from outside entities.
• met in executive session regarding the appointment of a county appraiser. No action was taken following executive session.
• approved vouchers, ads and abates.