By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Cooke County —
Monday’s vote among Cooke County commissioners to beef up courthouse security with one person won’t immediately result in any new hires, but gives current sheriff’s deputies a chance to earn overtime while guarding facility halls.
The new security is a rotating set of off-duty deputies; a vote to approve a full-time guard may come in future weeks.
County Judge John Roane said the decision to expand defense wasn’t inspired by any local incident or any serious potential for danger.
But he said courthouse employees, as well as visitors, may feel more secure while the bailiffs now on staff are preoccupied in hearings.
“Just having one more person is sort of an interim measure until we determine permanent additional security measures,” Roane said Tuesday. “And we’ve had incidents in the past but nothing recently. It’s just that you really should be prepared for these kinds of things, even if something has not triggered this other than national events.
“It’s something we’re seeing across the state and across the nation,” he added. “I think all county facilities are looking at their needs and doing what’s necessary to make sure all county citizens are protected, not just courthouse people.”
The courthouse now employs two armed bailiffs who monitor areas in and near the facility’s second-floor 235th District courtroom. But many of the courthouse occupants are customers who visit offices in lower levels, and the vote was made with them in mind.
“If you’ve got trials, the bailiff needs to be by the judge and protect the judge rather than spending that time out in the hall, so this is just an addition,” Roane said. “The bailiff should be on the second floor — and what if something happens downstairs? The deputy there can more readily handle it.”