To Protect and Serve and Serve

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They protect and serve on a local level and now they can do the same anywhere they go. President Bush has signed a bill into law that allows local, state and federal law enforcement officers to carry a concealed weapon into other states, and if needed, assist other agencies.

"Law enforcement officers can actually legally tote their firearms across the entire U.S., from one state to another, without any restrictions," said Keith McCary, Meridian's assistant police chief and state president of the fraternal order of Police.

Officers would be there to defend other officers and the public, if they're on vacation or even on business.

The new law does not stop with employed officers. It will also allow retired law enforcement officials who meet certain requirements to carry concealed weapons as well.

"The way the world is going now, you don't know what is going to happen. I'm glad to see they did finally pass it," said John McAlister, who worked for the Meridian Police Department for 31 years. He said this law allows retired officers to help keep protecting the public, without having to obtain a private concealed weapons license - a long drawn out process.

"When you travel or are out of town, we hope never to be put in a position but whether someone will need your help or you might be in a situation yourself," McAlister said.

There are, of course, standards. Retired officers must have 15 years of service and retire in good standing. Both retired and active officers must meet yearly gun training qualifications, according to the state they live in.

There is even talk about offering courses here at the training center in Meridian. Either way, law enforcement in this area say this new law is an advantage to help keep you safe no matter where you are.

"It will help us not only protect people in our own districts but other jurisdictions as well," McCary said.