Tulsa County Courthouse To Get New Armed Guards

Monday, May 9th 2016, 3:23 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa County is adding armed guards to the doors at the courthouse. The increased security means an armed deputy will be stationed at the x-ray machines for the first time.

The county is adding armed deputies, and that comes with a cost, but there's already a way to pay for it.

The security force at the courthouse starts with uniformed sheriff’s employees checking people over for weapons. They run everyone through a scanner, and x-ray bags make sure no guns or knives get inside the building.

But, if the officers find a weapon, or if someone tries to go through, they have to call a certified deputy to make the arrest.

That changes in a month when four armed deputies start working checkpoints at the courthouse.

"Government buildings is where violence seems to happen these days, and we, at least, want to have the presence and make people feel safe when they come in here," said Tulsa County Sheriff Liaison, Terry Simonson.

Four years ago, a man started shooting just outside the building. Armed deputies quickly responded from courtrooms, but that incident led to new security measures and pushed the discussion of armed guards.

County Commissioners approved the money to pay for the deputies Monday, with an increase to the filing fees in the court clerk’s office.

The county settled on a $10 surcharge for most civil cases, to generate $400,000 a year.

It's a wash for the county and a savings for the jail, where the deputies work now.

"Actually, we don't need more people at the jail, in some places we need less people at the jail,” Simonson said. “And that's one of the things the sheriff is working on, realigning jobs and duties at the jail. Perhaps we don't need as many people at the jail, but that doesn't mean we don't need them elsewhere in the county, like at the courthouse."

The deputies start work at the courthouse July 1. Their positions at the jail won't be filled, and that's the savings there.