CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A bill making its way through the West Virginia legislature would grant prosecuting attorneys limited arrest powers, and the ability to carry concealed firearms across state lines.
Even though they're technically law enforcement officers, prosecutors can't always conceal carry in other states, like Maryland. But Senate Bill 230 would allow them to complete firearms training, and carry concealed weapons nationwide for self-defense. This would give them the same benefits that police officers have.
Supporters believe it would protect them from the dangers they can face, both inside and outside the courthouse.
“We do receive threats. Some of them are people blowing off steam, and then some of them are, quite frankly, more serious,” said Matthew Harvey, Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney. “I want to protect myself and my family, and I'm unable to do so when I go to Maryland.”
Prosecutors would also get the power to arrest someone for offenses that happen in their presence inside their county courthouse.
“This doesn't mean that we're going to go out and start arresting people,” Harvey added. “We'll leave those to the professionals, our officers. However, we have to have that power in order to be able to carry concealed in other states.”
Both Harvey and Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney, Catie Wilkes Delligatti, said they would like to get the firearms training, which would be equal to or exceed what's required of their county deputies.
“We're very fortunate to work in a secure courthouse here, but this job does have its risks,” Delligatti said. “For people who want to be able to defend themselves and protect themselves, it's certainly not a bad thing.”
That bill has passed the Senate, and is currently in the House Judiciary Committee. Harvey said he is confident the bill will pass the House of Delegates, which would put it on the Governor's desk.
We have reached out to Governor Jim Justice's office to get his opinion on the bill.