Fayette court employees soon could tote Tasers
The new year will bring new security measures to the Fayette County Courthouse, including the likelihood tipstaffs will be armed with Taser guns.
The county's four tipstaffs underwent training last year from certified instructor David Rutter in anticipation of the change. President Judge John F. Wagner Jr. said he is awaiting the OK from county commissioners before ordering the tipstaffs to begin carrying the stun guns.
“We're waiting to see whether the commissioners' insurance has any requirements,” Wagner said. “Since they are trained and are the first line of security in the courtroom, it just followed that they should carry a Taser.”
Tipstaffs typically order courtroom visitors to rise when a judge enters and takes the bench. Other duties include administering oaths to witnesses, overseeing jury panels and assisting judges with a variety of tasks, said Karen Kuhn, court administrator.
Courtroom security in neighboring Westmoreland County is provided by sheriff's deputies who carry Taser guns. Tipstaffs are not armed.
“The policy is they are not allowed to bring a firearm in. There has been discussion about whether that should be changed, but it has not been changed,” Court Administrator Paul Kuntz said.
Claire Capistro, Allegheny County's court administrator, said the sheriff's department provides courtroom security. She declined comment on whether or not tipstaffs are armed.
Steve Schell, spokesman with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts in Harrisburg, said data on whether tipstaffs in other counties carry weapons or Tasers is not tracked through his office.
The change in Fayette is being made at the same time court constables have been moved from under the court's direction to the office of Sheriff Gary Brownfield.
Wagner said court constables will still be in the courtrooms when needed, but they will have additional duties under the sheriff's office.
Brownfield said the three full-time and nine part-time court constables, when not in the courtrooms, will patrol the halls and assist with security at the front door and a basement employee entrance.
The added help at the front door will be most noticeable during criminal court week, Brownfield said, when between 1,300 and 1,500 people are screened for weapons as they enter the courthouse in Uniontown. The front door currently is manned by one security officer, with assistance provided as needed, he said.
With just four sheriff's deputies on staff to serve warrants, Brownfield said the court constables will relieve the front-door security officers at the courthouse and nearby Public Service Building for lunch breaks. That change will free the deputies to serve warrants uninterrupted because they will no longer have to return to the courthouse just to perform that duty, Brownfield said.
In addition, the constables will be trained and certified to carry firearms, Brownfield said.
The constables now carry Taser guns. Wagner said if those Tasers are not available for the tipstaffs' use, the courts will buy their own.
Before the addition of the court constables, Brownfield's department had three security officers, four deputies and one chief deputy on staff.
Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or email@example.com. Staff writer Rich Cholodofsky contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Barefoot toddlers found wandering in Uniontown Hospital lot
- Fayette County Courthouse setting for ‘Magic and Mistletoe’
- Center at Penn State Fayette puts students on path to success
- Dinner-show to kick off holiday season at Albert Gallatin
- Quiz Bowl at Penn State Fayette gets students’ competitive juices flowing
- Connellsville Christmas Parade will be Dec. 5
- Juvenile accused in Uniontown store burglary
- Springfield Twp. family thankful despite blaze
- Connellsville gears up for big Christmas celebration
- Small Business Saturday events set in Connellsville
- Covenant Community Ministries unites 4 churches in Western Pa.