Monday, July 11, 2016

Two Michigan court bailiffs dead

It could have happened right in Woodstock at the McHenry County Courthouse.

According to news reports, two court bailiffs were killed today, when a defendant on his way to jail got hold of one bailiff's gun.

How many times did I write on The Woodstock Advocate after observing careless mannerisms and postures of McHenry County's court officers (who don't want to be called "bailiffs")? During many of the times I was in courtrooms to observe hearings, I was concerned at the inattention by some court officers, especially as defendants were brought through the secure door from the jail or returned.

Many of the bailiffs in McHenry County are not physically fit and wouldn't stand a chance of overpowering an unruly defendant. The Sheriff's Department, at least in the past, was an equal opportunity employer. If you were a friend of the Sheriff, you had an equal chance of gettng hired, even when you shouldn't have had. Good ol' Keith had lots of friends there.

In at least one case a deputy was removed from credentialed deputy status and immediately transferred to unsworn court duty. It wasn't long after that that he was alleged to have challenged a man at gunpoint near Ridgefield and may even forgotten that he no longer was a deputy and may have identified himself as one or as "Police!"

Back to the courtroom. When I was an reserve deputy in Colorado, all law enforcement personnel locked their weapons up before entering the courtroom. Not so in McHenry County. Cops from all over the territory carry their guns into the courtroom.

In the Michigan case, the convicted man was able to get a bailiff's gun. He killed two and injured other persons, before police killed him.

To keep visitors to McHenry County courts safe, there should be constant observation and review of personnel. And, when inattention or other factors are observed, court officers should be removed, retrained or terminated. Period.


Big Daddy said...

The term bailiff has been removed and replaced by Court Security Officer. I don't think it's that the CSO's in McHenry County don't like the term bailiff, it's just that they are governed by law which refers to them as Court Security Officers. They are sworn members of the MCSO but work in the Court Division. Lake County does the same thing. CSO's are always armed. Before we rip into anything, let's find out how the guy in Michigan obtained the weapon. Cheap holster? I see alot of inside people with these cheap Blackhawk Serpa holsters which are a takeaway waiting to happen. Did he simply over power the deputy? I'll wait for the investigation before I do anything.

Big Daddy said...

I'm hearing that it wasn't a CSO that was disarmed but in fact a regular deputy. MOTOFO as I get it.

Gus said...

Yes, I've read that. Thanks. Courts and secure access to jail areas (holding cells, hallways) probably have rules about presence of firearms. I'm wondering whether the armed deputy was where he should have been. Was he disarmed in the courtroom or in an area where firearms were prohibited?

An article yesterday indicated he was facing life in prison. You'd think CSOs and deputies would be on the alert for an attempted break-out.

Perhaps inmates should be classified for escape threat. If they were, they'd probably sue for being profiled.