EFFINGHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Following the deadly shooting of two bailiffs inside a Michigan courthouse on Monday, we are reaching out to area law enforcement to see what the policies are in our local courtrooms when it comes to prisoners and firearms.
Many rules are similar from county to county here in Georgia. In Effingham County, Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie says they do differ from some surrounding counties when it comes to who's carrying weapons inside their courtrooms.
Following the fatal shootings inside a courthouse in Berrien County, Michigan, Sheriff McDuffie said tragedies like that often cause officers in similar posts nation-wide to reevaluate their own policies and procedures.
Sheriff McDuffie says the courthouse staff in Effingham County regularly train for emergency situations, and utilize holsters that has several safety features on them. The sheriff said Effingham County courtrooms are different from some surrounding counties, in that they allow all peace officers to carry their sidearm into the courtroom, not just the court officers.
"If you've got a defendant sitting there and he's getting mad, getting upset, he looks over and he says, 'well, I can get that court officers gun and I can shoot about five people in here.' But then he looks over in that jury box and there's six deputies sitting over there, six police officers with guns on them, well I can't take on all them. It makes a big difference," said Sheriff McDuffie.
The sheriff also said that there are no weapons in the inmate holding area when they arrive at the courthouse.