DES approves employees carrying mace

Posted at 4:56 PM, Mar 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-24 23:10:00-04

Employees working for one of the largest agencies in the state, the Arizona Department of Economic Security, are being told, they can bring mace or pepper spray to work, effective immediately.

In an internal memo released to the public Thursday, Director Tim Jeffries says attacks like the one that killed 31 people in Brussels, Belgium, is a reminder of the dangers the world currently poses.

Other attacks like the one in San Bernardino, CA in December 2015, targeted government workers.

The director reminded employees, they are well within their legal right to defend themselves. 

The inspector general for the Arizona Department of Economic Security says many of the more than 7,700 state employees statewide have face to face contact with the public.

The agency helps many people who are in desperate situations, needing cash assistance, food stamps, health coverage, and other urgent needs.

Agency heads admit, the desperation can raise the tension level and there could be an increased threat of violence.

ABC15 has learned employees have expressed concerns about safety at town hall meetings held by the director in the past.

DES is also looking into whether employees can arm themselves with guns.

"We are considering the advantages of staff carrying firearms, but only with the proper aspects of the law." said Juan Inspector General Arecellana for the Arizona Department of Economic Security.