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The lesson behind one eagle-eyed court officer's actions

Submitted by PoliceOne Staff

In light of the recent discussion of cut-backs impacting court security forces, we are reminded of a compelling example of one court security officer’s attention to detail that saved countless lives.

Quite a number of years ago, this officer stood watch over a courtroom when a defendant, briefcase in hand, entered the room with his attorney and took his seat. Nothing out of the ordinary. During a lunch break, the defendant, his attorney and everyone else left the courtroom. When the defendant returned, the extremely observant court security officer noticed that he was carrying a different briefcase. Not sure what to make of this, he wisely decided to alert the judge to this oddity. The judge, realizing that something was clearly amiss, decided to calmly call a recess during which he asked everyone, except the defendant and his attorney, to leave the room.

After the courtroom was cleared, he had the defendant’s attorney approach the bench so he could find out more. The attorney, who apparently hadn’t noticed the switch, walked back to the table to ask his client why he had changed briefcases, at which point the defendant bent over, threw a switch built into the side of the case and ignited an explosion that caused considerable damage to the courtroom and left the defendant dead and the attorney and judge seriously injured.

The plan behind how the rigged briefcase got into the courtroom and into the hands of the defendant aren’t known, but the actions of the eagle-eyed court security officer and the wise decision of the judge to calmly clear the courtroom before inquiring about the new case clearly saved many from injury or death.

In this instance, outstanding observational skills and attention to detail—which can be mimicked on the street—combined with the fact that a court security officer was on site proved priceless. Something to remember.

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