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Saturday, March 22, 2008

[MO] Some officers attend personal divorce hearings armed

...any police officer, whether there to testify in a criminal case or to get divorced from his or her spouse, is allowed to carry a weapon... "I am a police officer, and I know so many times in my own peer group where they went through horrible, ugly divorces," [Warren County Sheriff Kevin Harrison] said. "The only thing worse than responding to a domestic is responding to a domestic involving one of our own."...

Guns, officers shouldn't mix in personal court cases
By Susan Weich
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
03/23/2008
[Excerpts] Anyone who has ever stood in line outside of the St. Charles County Courthouse, waiting to go through the metal detector, might think the building is weapon-free. I've been in that line before, but I never really thought about the number of guns in the building. They rival a small police department. First are the bailiffs, who are in charge of courtroom security. And any police officer, whether there to testify in a criminal case or to get divorced from his or her spouse, is allowed to carry a weapon. At a meeting earlier this month, county judges discussed security, and the topic turned to whether police officers should be allowed to carry guns in court. The discussion is expected to continue at the next judges' meeting in April... St. Charles County Associate Judge Norman C. Steimel worries about the officers who show up in his family court. He's never had any problems, but he has had a few hearings where police officers appeared on their own behalf, and they were armed. "I'm in a division that's very emotionally charged," he said. "I'm uncomfortable when they show up with their weapons"... Warren County Sheriff Kevin Harrison, who handles courthouse security there, says he is not surprised that judges might want to take the weapons out of family court. "I would never want to disrespect those officers, but people don't make the best decisions and have the clearest judgment in matters involving their own personal affairs"... In Warren County, officers who are a party to a civil or family case are not allowed to carry their firearms in court. "I am a police officer, and I know so many times in my own peer group where they went through horrible, ugly divorces," he said. "The only thing worse (than) responding to a domestic is responding to a domestic involving one of our own"... [Full article here]

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