DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas County is stepping up safety measures at the Frank Crowley Courts Building. No one wants to talk about specifics for security reasons but sources close to the plan say to expect an increase in security officers with guns.
There are also plans to keep District Attorney Craig Watkins safe. The offices of the District Attorney are located inside the Crowley Courts Building.
Heath Harris, of the DA’s office, told reporters, “I don’t want to go into specifics of exactly what security measures we’re going to take as far as Mr. Watkins is concerned. But, I will tell you and the public, they will be increased.”
Changes will also be made for parking. As for “personal protection?”
Harris said, “We encourage our prosecutors to have a security handgun license, as long as they do it within the letter of the law.”
But according to the security staff inside the courthouse, no one except law enforcement officers are allowed to carry guns inside.
Should prosecutors and judges be allowed to? Opinions are mixed among courthouse visitors.
“Yes, I think the prosecutors ought to arm themselves and be ready for an attack. Even if it’s taxpayer money, the prosecutors have a job to do. And, I think they should feel safe doing their job,” said Joseph Moody.
“A criminal or anything can snatch a gun from somebody and hold someone hostage. That could put a lot of people in harm’s way with a gun being in there. So, only police should have guns,” said Patrick Wright.
Any changes will need to be approved by Dallas County Commissioners.
Judge Clay Jenkins was in Austin for the day. Speaking by phone, he said, “Security at the courthouse is strong. But it could be made stronger.”
He and the commissioners will discuss their options at the next commissioners court meeting during a closed session.
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