Courthouse Security

July 2, 2007
Reported by Rhonda Kitchens

Commander James McGee of the Calcasieu Sheriff's Office says their office has never had an inmate escape from the courthouse, but if they ever do, "we have procedures to prevent and then of course if something does happen we have procedures to respond."

Procedures, McGee says, that begin before an inmate ever leaves the Calcasieu Parish Jail.

"They're shackled, belly chains, hand cuffs and they're searched prior to being handcuffed, so that's a big step right there."

Once they arrive at the courthouse inmates are taken through a side door then placed in a secure holding area.

McGee says. "they are never in touch with the public. They are brought from that facility to each courtroom. They are never brought through the common area of the courthouse."

Once again through a back door and once again placed only in the vicinity of other inmates and courtroom security.

"All of our courtroom security people, which we have a guard staff and courtroom security," says McGee, "they're all post certified, armed deputies. If we have something like that happen our patrol division would immediately respond and also we have a highly trained swat team."

Commander McGee says the only time the cuffs come off is when an inmate is standing trial which is a very small percentage of prisoners, on any given day.

"When that happens our courtroom security is very beefed up and there are also no other inmates in that courtroom. They will be the only one in there."

And the 14th Judicial Courthouse also has a new tool that sets Calcasieu Parish apart in courtroom security. It's the same type of X-ray equipment used in airports and can identify a gun, knife, or any type of weapon being smuggled inside. Just one more weapon in the law enforcement arsenal.