Keeping courtroom's safe

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Everyday it seems crooks come up with new ways to get weapons past security checkpoints.  That's why it is imperative that officers learn new ways to deal with courtroom crime.

When people enter a courtroom it is usually after a crime has occurred.  But there are times when violence can happen inside the courthouse.

"Situations could deteriorate in a courtroom we need to be prepared to deal with that deterioration when that occurs," said Izard County Sheriff Tate Lawrence.

Sheriff Lawrence said his officers know how to handle disruptions, but they're going to get better at it.

A bill passed this year by the Arkansas State Senate calls for more training for court officers. Last week Izard County officers joined four other agencies for the 12-hour course.

"To refresh and create an awareness that can potentially occur in a courtroom," said Lawrence.

They also learned what has changed... including the types of weapons people try to bring in.

"Things you wouldn't normally associate with weapons and ways they can sneak them into the courtroom," said Izard County Chief Investigator Charles Melton.

They also got an update on what traits to watch for.

"How we respond to problems, how we detect problems by body language," said Lawrence.

"They'll be apprehensive nervous fidgety can't stand still," said Melton.

A courtroom can be a highly emotional environment in everything from criminal to domestic cases.

"Most of the time you've got two different people there that don't get along and you've got to watch over them and keep them safe," said Melton.

They are also there to protect the judge, the attorneys, clients, witnesses and themselves from anything that could come in the doors.

"I think we have to look at every case that comes before the court individually," said Lawrence.

They also have to be aware that anything can happen.

The other agencies that participated in the training include Sharp County, Fulton County, the Horseshoe Bend Police Department, and the Salem Police Department.

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