Conroe’s chief of police was asked to leave the Texas Ear Nose and Throat Specialists office in The Woodlands Tuesday afternoon because he was carrying his firearm.
Chief Philip Dupuis told The Courier he was wearing his badge on his belt in plain view next to his handgun, as well as his Conroe PD identification on a lanyard around his neck when he entered the doctor’s office in the 3900 block of Pinecroft Drive around 4 p.m. and started to check in. A receptionist took his driver’s license and insurance card before questioning him about the gun on his hip.
Dupuis said she asked him to take his gun out to his car. The 35-year law enforcement veteran, who never has had an accidental discharge, refused to disarm himself, reiterating that he is a police officer.
That’s when he was asked to leave, Dupuis said.
“It’s just bad,” Dupuis said. “My badge is clearly displayed. I have my lanyard on with ‘police’ on my ID card hanging around my neck. I had handcuffs. The lobby was full of people, and they asked me to leave because of who I am.”
Under Texas law, as a licensed police officer, Dupuis can legally open carry anywhere in the state.
“I didn’t think twice about it because I can and do carry everywhere,” Dupuis said. “I carry to protect myself and I carry to protect my family and the public.”
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However, Dupuis acknowledged that despite Texas carry laws, a private business or property owner can create “weapons-free” zones. The owner must post signage referring to the Penal Code, Chapter 30.06 and 30.07, enabling the prohibition of concealed carry and open carry, respectively.
“These people have the right to do what they did and refuse my service,” he said. “Legally, they can ask me to leave because I’m not there on official business.”
Dupuis initially took to Facebook to express his displeasure, stating, “I will be looking for a new ENT, just asked to leave … because I am wearing my gun, badge, and ID. I have never been so embarrassed … in my 35 years of law enforcement. …”
Texas ENT Office Manager Ryan Johnson called Dupuis to apologize. Johnson told The Courier they have the same signage regarding firearms as any other doctor’s office. It was unclear whether that signage prohibits both open and concealed carry.
“Mr. Dupuis identified himself as a police officer,” Johnson said. “This situation simply should not have happened.”
He said none of the doctors at the office were aware of the situation.
“This was a mistake,” Johnson said. “All we can do is sincerely apologize for it and will use it to teach our employees how to better handle these situations when they arise.”
But for Dupuis, the incident hit a little too close to home. He has two children who want to be police officers when they grow up.
“After a day like today, I want to come home and try and talk them out of it,” Dupuis said. “I shouldn’t have to talk my children out of being in a profession that I have loved for so long and has provided for me and my family a good life. When I see something like this, I don’t want my kids going through this.”