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Bill advances to consider Corrections Officers part of law enforcement

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The House Jails and Prisons Committee advanced legislation Thursday which supporters said corrects a major oversight in the federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act. The LEOSA, as it’s called, was passed in 2005 soon after 9/11. The measure allows for trained law enforcement officers nationwide to carry a concealed firearm off duty anywhere in the United States.

However, the original language did not extend to Corrections Officers in West Virginia.

“It was intended to recognize law enforcement officers across the country in an interstate optic to carry a firearm,” said Delegate Mike Honaker of Greenbrier County.

However, since Corrections Officers go through the corrections academy and not the police academy in West Virginia, they are technically not considered law enforcement officers. House Bill 3363 would change the status and put them into the fold.

“We’ve allowed our Corrections Officers to be forgotten in the public safety mission of West Virginia whether it’s at the local level, the sate level, or even at the federal level. This legislation is a big step of affirmation,” Honaker said.

The proposal would change existing code to say Corrections Officers in West Virginia are law enforcement officers and their training at the Corrections Academy with firearms will be considered sufficient to be covered under the LEOSA standards.

Under the legislation, Correctios Officers would not be required to carry a concealed firearm off duty, but would be allowed to do so anywhere they go if they wish.

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