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Retired officers facing handgun certification hurdles Despite right-to-carry law for U.S., procedure unsettled in many areasSTEPHANIE SANDOVAL, Staff Writer

For nearly 24 years, Virgil Rush carried a gun.

Now he feels vulnerable without it.

"You send many people to the pen over those years. If you run into some of those people, you like to feel like you have something to protect yourself and your family," said the former Farmers Branch police officer, who moved to Oklahoma after retiring eight years ago.

Under federal law enacted last year, retired police officers with at least 15 years' experience should be able to carry a concealed handgun in any state.

But Mr. Rush and retired law enforcement officers around the country have hit a brick wall.

Texas, like many other states, hasn't set up a procedure for retirees to obtain the handgun certification required by the federal Law Enforcement Safety Act of 2004.

And while law enforcement agencies could provide that for their retired officers, many refuse to, saying there are too many unanswered questions about the agencies' responsibilities and liability.

"The state is mandated to set procedures whereby retirees can receive the certification," said Craig Ferrell Jr., deputy director and administrative general counsel for the Houston Police Department. He has written about the issue for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. "This is a national right-to-carry law, but it's going to allow the states to set their own standards."

The Law Enforcement Safety Act requires local law enforcement agencies to provide retirees with photo identification cards indicating that the officer retired in good standing.

Officers also must demonstrate that they have been tested and meet the same standards as active law enforcement officers to carry a handgun.

There are two options for obtaining the handgun certification, Mr. Ferrell said.

The agency the officer retired from can conduct the training and testing and include the certification information on the retiree's ID card.

Otherwise, the state must provide the certification.

Representatives from the Texas attorney general's office and the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) said that they are working together to determine the commission's role.

Some do, some don't

Among local agencies, Dallas, Fort Worth, Carrollton, Richardson and Rowlett provide the certification.

But Farmers Branch, Grand Prairie, Irving and Arlington do not.

Several retired Farmers Branch officers said they are angry because Chief Jim Fawcett won't provide the testing and certification. He said he is doing all that he is required to under the law by providing a photo ID card.

He's right, Mr. Ferrell said.

"I don't think there's any mandatory provision on the municipality to give the certification. They just need to say if he or she is honorably retired or not," Mr. Ferrell said. "I don't find any fault with a police chief that chooses to act that way."

Houston provides retirees with cards that include the certification information.

"We just chose to be a little more employee-friendly to our retired officers and comply with the spirit and letter of the act."

Weighing action

A spokesman for the Irving Police Department said officials are developing a policy, while a representative for the Arlington police said the department is reviewing legal requirements.

"I'm kind of waiting on some clarification from TCLEOSE before we jump off on this," Grand Prairie Police Chief Glen Hill said.

Many chiefs also are looking to the state to act, said Gary Adams, University Park police chief and president of the Texas Police Chiefs Association.

He suggested that until state agencies determine how to meet the requirements of the federal law, retired officers could seek a state concealed handgun permit.

Retired officers may obtain the state permit at a discounted rate.

To date, Texas has reciprocal agreements with 18 states. The federal law is intended to allow the officers to carry a concealed handgun in any state.

The response by different agencies across the country to the law has been varied, said Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations.

Mr. Johnson said retirees should lobby state-elected and appointed officials to enact the changes.

"If a local police chief or sheriff or whatever has not elected to provide that [handgun certification] endorsement on the retirees' ID cards, I would tell the retirees not to lose hope," he said.
 

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Yeah, down in our little corner of the Commonwealth no one's jumping on helping out the retirees on this issue. My retired ex-partner lives in FL and came back up recently with his walker (Just kidding Ron, if you read this board when you aren't fishing).

He stopped in at the supermarket PD to ask about qualification and was told it pretty much s***s to be him 'cause we ain't offering qualifying to our retirees.

It doesn't look like the state is going to jump on this anytime soon, either.
 

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According to Chief Ron Glidden, the AG has determined that we have NO STATE STANDARDS (only "suggestions" . . . each PD can do what they like, as often as they like/or not) and thus (like FL), retirees can NOT be certified in accordance with HR218s provisions.

It will take the MCOPA to change the way they run the firearms portion of the Academies and create a standard. Since MCOPA voted AGAINST supporting HR218 (again according to Ron), don't expect them to do anything about this in this century!

I will say again, HR218 was written by a union for their members benefit (not necessarily every union) and it was VERY poorly written . . . it leaves more gaps and areas for mis-interpretation than answers!
 

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sdb29 said:
Yeah, down in our little corner of the Commonwealth no one's jumping on helping out the retirees on this issue. My retired ex-partner lives in FL and came back up recently with his walker (Just kidding Ron, if you read this board when you aren't fishing).

He stopped in at the supermarket PD to ask about qualification and was told it pretty much s***s to be him 'cause we ain't offering qualifying to our retirees.

It doesn't look like the state is going to jump on this anytime soon, either.
The good news is, Florida will take care of him. FDLE has posted the new "state minimum standards" which take effect next June. Our AG has published his legal opinion also. He says that if there are no state standards, then retirees do not have to meet any standard! Imagine your Mass. AG saying that!
 

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I've been told New Hampshire has something in the works and it will be made available in the Sring of 06. Until them, I travel back to NJ once ever few months and I take the NJ Retired Qualification course which is exactly the same as the course for current officers. Except I have to pay in the area of $65.00 for the 15 minute course of fire.....:BNANA:
 
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