Santa Clara County Jail guards are now calling for the right to carry guns while off duty.
The request comes after three correctional deputies were reportedly confronted in the streets by former inmates. The union said one of the deputies was attacked in downtown San Jose.
"One of my correctional deputies was walking out of a restaurant with his wife and three children and encountered a former inmate, and a physical altercation ensued," said Lance Scimeca, Santa Clara County Correctional Peace Officers' Association president.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office said it has not confirmed if all confrontations this summer involved former inmates. Scimeca said there is no doubt and is now asking the county to allow his deputies to carry guns off duty, which currently is not permitted.
"The general feeling is that it’s open season on peace officers in the state of California," Scimeca said.
County officials have no comment on whether to allow correctional deputies to carry guns. The sheriff's office said it is still looking to see if it is legal for jail guards to carry firearms.
"I think they should carry guns to protect themselves and their families," said Mark Garcia, Golden State Investigations.
Garcia spent four years as a guard at the jails When he became a sheriff's deputy, he was allowed to carry a gun off duty.
"They know you. They know you inside and know you outside," Garcia said of inmates. "You're feeding them, taking them to the yard. If they need something, they call you."
One of the correctional deputies attacked over the summer was hospitalized because of his injuries. Scimeca said union members now question going out in public in fear of another attack.
Scimeca said the union contract expires in a year and the issue of being able to carry a gun off duty will be part of the next round of negotiations.