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Police: OK to call 911 for 'open carry' concerns

6:10 PM, Jan 15, 2014   |    comments
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HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WZZM) -- A training session for Hudsonville city leaders is shedding light on the open carry law and raising questions over when it's OK to call police.

City officials are learning that they can call 911, even when someone legally brings a gun into the building. The training began at the city-run Hudsonville Public Library.

Melissa Huisman is constantly monitoring nine surveillance cameras at the Hudsonville Public Library for suspicious or criminal activity. However, now she's also learning to call police in some cases, when there's nothing illegal happening.

"We're to call 911, but we're immediately to tell the operator that there is no danger, no emergency, but we want to inform you that someone is in the library that is openly carrying a gun," says Huisman, director for the Hudsonville Public Library.

It's part of training session by the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department on how to respond to someone using the open carry law. The sergeant clarified his position, telling WZZM 13 that 911 should only be called if there's a feeling of intimidation or being threatened.

"Not only in case something should happen, but the patrons around aren't going to know what the open carry law is," says Huisman.

Library officials say they also learned an important distinction between someone having a gun in their holster versus taking it out, which is also known as brandishing a weapon. "At that point it is illegal and at that point we hit the panic button," says Huisman.

However, if someone is legally carrying a gun, the sergeant says they would simply monitor the situation and would only make contact with the person if there's any danger. "The library is such a sacred place like a school, but it's not really, it's a public building and anybody can come in," says Huisman.

The Ottawa County Prosecutors Office says gun owners can use open carry in most publicly owned buildings with some exceptions, like courthouses and federal buildings. City hall staff will receive the open carry training next week. The training also includes how to respond if there is a real threat in the building.

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