Making national news not an option

Published 8:57 pm Saturday, February 14, 2015

In February of 2013, a man opened fire at the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington, Del. Three people were killed, another two injured. Just a month before, an assistant district attorney was killed on the Kaufman County Courthouse steps in Texas. Another four people were injured.

In 2011, a man convicted of a sex offense walked out of a small Minnesota courthouse, got a loaded gun out of his car and returned to shoot the prosecutor and a witness in the case.

Last year, just a few counties away, two men were shot and wounded at the Nash County Courthouse.

Two weeks ago, Beaufort County Board of Commissioners Chairman Gary Brinn brought up the subject of courthouse security at the board’s regular meeting. It would seem the judges who work in the local courthouse are concerned about the lack of security there. And they should be.

Because anyone can walk into the Beaufort County Courthouse, security has always been an issue. There are metal detectors before entrances to the courtrooms, and there is law enforcement manning those metal detectors. When court is being called into session, people can be seen waiting their turn to go through the detectors. Purses and bags are given the requisite check and security going into the courtroom is in place. But it’s still not enough, because the courthouse has an odd configuration, one in which inmates being held in the courthouse’s basement jail and the general public regularly cross paths; as do inmates with the prosecution and judges; as do inmates with their victims and their victims’ families.

The last thing Beaufort County needs is someone who bears a grudge against a defendant, a prosecutor, a witness or a judge doing harm to anyone doing business at or working in the courthouse.

It’s time to address security at the Beaufort County Courthouse before someone becomes that person who puts the courthouse on national news.