Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2006
2 deputies added at courthouse
The sheriff is considering having a holding cell in the courthouse.
By ED RUNYAN
WARREN Security in the Trumbull County Courthouse starting Monday was increased by two deputies in hopes of avoiding violent acts such as the beating of a murder defendant last month.
Maj. Bob Davis said the sheriff's department will have deputies on each of the courthouse's three floors throughout the day plus one at the main entrance and another who will roam the building.
Davis said the building had two deputies at the entrance and another one roaming before that, although even fewer deputies watched over the building during the budget crunch in early 2005.
The five judges in the courthouse four in the general division and the one from the probate court signed an order last month after the beating, saying that at least four deputies would be needed to provide the security.
Davis, who supervises road deputies and the transport of prisoners to court hearings from the county jail, said the five deputies are in addition to the transport deputies. Generally, two or more deputies handle transports and stand by in the courtroom during hearings, he said.
But on the day Jason Howard was assaulted by three relatives of a former Warren woman, just one deputy was guarding Howard. Davis said that situation will be avoided in the future also.
Other reasons for decision
Davis acknowledged the beating was one of the reasons for increasing security, but the department had been considering changes before that.
One reason was a case that occurred March 11, 2005, in Atlanta in which a county judge, his court reporter and a deputy were killed when a deputy was overpowered by a defendant on his way to court.
"We've always felt we needed more deputies," said Maj. Jim Phillips, who is in charge of courthouse security.
Another change being considered, Davis said, is construction of a holding cell within the courthouse, where an inmate can be placed temporarily during dangerous situations. In the case of the Howard beating, two suspects were taken immediately across the street to the jail to be booked.
If the courthouse had a holding cell, they could have been held there until it was safer to move them, he said, noting the large number of people who had gathered in front of the courthouse after the fight.
Not a factor
Davis said the escape of an inmate being escorted to jail after a hearing in July was not so much a factor in the beefed-up security.
That episode, in which a defendant made it to the Mahoning River and was recaptured a short time later, occurred primarily because the transport deputy had not placed handcuffs on the defendant properly.
The handcuffs were apparently too loose, and the man's hands were shackled in front of his body instead of behind, Davis said. "That issue was addressed," he added.