Wednesday, February 08, 2006

No crack pipes, no toy guns, no brass knuckles allowed in court

Rockford Register Star

Some people visiting the courthouse leave common sense out and dangerous items in.

ROCKFORD — If you’re the type of person who carries a crack pipe, a toy gun or brass knuckles, leave them at home when you’re headed to the courthouse.

That may seem like common sense, but not everybody realizes it, as proved by some visitors to the Winnebago County Courthouse and Public Safety Building.

The courthouse entrance now displays confiscated items in a glass case near the metal detectors. Besides drug paraphernalia and fake guns, the case features several knives and a pen that can be used for more than just writing.

“We’ve had ballpoint pens that come in, and when you pull them apart, they’ve got a knife inside of them,” said Charlie Jackson, director of courthouse security.

Just as alarming as that, the case also has a black toy gun somebody brought to the downtown Rockford facility, 420 W. State St.

“It’s amazing ... You could cause havoc in the courtroom. If they get in there with that and point it at the judge or something, it could be a tragic situation. You don’t know how you’d react, but if somebody pointed that gun at me, I’d probably react and shoot them,” said Jackson, who is an armed employee.

In Jackson’s eight years as security director, three people have been arrested for bringing real guns to the courthouse. But Jackson said the county doesn’t always arrest those who walk in with drug paraphernalia.

“That would be a stretch if we started arresting everybody that came in with something like that,” Jackson said. “We just confiscate it. But we don’t want to encourage people to come in thinking, ‘I’m not going to get arrested.’”

Bringing illegal drugs to the courthouse will get you arrested. For other items, such as Mace or Swiss Army knives, security will hold them at the front door for visitors to retrieve when leaving.

State’s Attorney Paul Logli said the officers who guard the courthouse entrance can exercise discretion just like any street cop.

“Charlie is not going to refer every case up to us,” Logli said. “But I don’t want people to think that there’s a carte blanche. I know we have prosecuted people in the past.”

by Pat Milhizer


Blogger Kayaboy said...

Damn. Going to a courthouse with a crack pipe! Fucking crackheads

2/08/2006 05:26:00 PM  
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