ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Should Bernalillo County employees be able to arm themselves with pepper spray at work? Many county employees say because of the dangers downtown; the answer is yes. The current policy doesn’t really address whether employees can have pepper spray, so Tuesday’s vote is more of a clarification. But people say it’s necessary when it comes to personal safety.

“I’m on the sixth floor and I can hear yelling and screaming on occasion. There’s people using the restroom right out on the street; you can see it from our building sometimes. It can be rough and annoying,” Larry Donahue said.

Donahue works in downtown Albuquerque and notices odd behavior more often than not. “I’m a somewhat big guy, 6 feet, 230 pounds, and I feel a little intimidated sometimes walking around. I mean, it won’t stop me from walking around, but I can only imagine, especially a lone female, or something, isn’t going to feel comfortable,” Donahue said.

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Some Bernalillo county employees at Alvarado Square downtown feel the same way when walking to their parking garages before or after their shift. Now, the county is trying to update its workplace violence policy after several employees inquired about carrying pepper spray for their safety.

If an amendment is approved by County Commissioners Tuesday evening, employees will be allowed to carry one canister of pepper spray on them, no bigger than three ounces. “We’re addressing that issue and making sure that our employees feel safe not only in their work environment but their personal environment as they’re coming into and exiting the building,” Tom Thorpe, the Communications Coordinator for Bernalillo County, said.

Pepper spray would need to have a safety cap and remain out of sight while inside the county building. It would include all county employees, not just those at Alvarado Square.

“I don’t think the public should interpret this in any way as an inditement on the downtown area or anything like that; that’s not it at all,” Thorpe said. “We encourage everyone to be safe throughout the county, throughout the city, everywhere we go. This is just a way for us to sure up our business within the county and within our personnel.”

The Board of County Commissioners will vote on this amendment during their Tuesday meeting.