Heightened courtroom security paying off

By Tim Guidera - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) – There are those who will try to have more than their day in court.

"From time to time,'' said Lieutenant Tommy Tillman, who provides security at the Chatham County Courthouse, "people bring in unauthorized items like knives and other weapons, mace. We've had tasers.''

The times they're successful are being effectively reduced at the courthouse.

In recent weeks, with the addition of a new security gate, all visitors have been checked more thoroughly and all kinds of potentially dangerous items have not made their way into courtrooms.

"Dating back to October 18, we probably have six to seven bags of items that were confiscated,'' said Lt. Tillman. "You would be surprised by the sheer volume of weapons that people try to bring into the courthouse.''

It's the need for the new, heightened security that should not be surprising.

"The courthouse is a place where people come to conduct their business,'' said Lt. Tillman. "But it's also a place where we have a lot of tension in the courts from time to time.''

"Security in a courthouse is really an important factor for the safety of the community as well as anyone who works here,'' added Shawn Amacher, who works at the courthouse as the superior court administrator. "This has actually been developed because people were avoiding walking through the safety and security measures.''

But in the last few weeks, visitors have walked in unarmed, having been stripped of weapons ranging from a loaded handgun to a fork.

"We can't have forks come in,'' says Lt. Tillman, "because forks can be used as a stabbing weapon as well.''

The security team has to think that way with nearly one million people entering the courthouse in a year.

"We have to be extra careful,'' says Lt. Tillman. "It bolsters our security to the courthouse."

It helps to better protect everyone inside.

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