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Courthouse Security Training in Thomasville

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By Christian Jennings - bio | email

February 25, 2009

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - That deadly shooting rampage at the Fulton County courthouse almost four years ago changed the way many Georgia courthouse's handle security.

The Thomas county sheriff's office held a courthouse security training seminar this morning, to better prepare deputies, judges, and other courthouse personel just in case they ever find themselves in a similar deadly situation. WALB News 10's Christian Jennings was in the Thomas county courthouse this morning for the shooting.

Deputies stand guard and protect the entrance to the courthouse. But a normal security check can quickly escalate to chaos.

"We want to make sure all the courthouse personnel is familiar with what to do in case there is ever a shooting here," says Investigator Tim Watkins with the Thomas County Sheriff's Office.

Thomas county deputies tested their reflexes this morning protecting the judge and taking shots at the shooter.

Of course, no one was hurt in this morning's scenario, but it served as a reminder that this can happen anywhere.

And the Atlanta courthouse shooting that occurred almost four years ago is proof of that.

"Just knowing what to do in a situation, the training, where to go and what to do. It always helps to prepare your mind. You need to know how you're going to react to a situation before it ever happens."

Probate Judge Vicki Burnette works in the courthouse. She was in the courtroom this morning for training. And says she feels safer knowing those sworn to protect her, are ready to do so.

"When you know they're trained to do their job it makes it easier for us," she says.

Sheriff's officers say county budget restraints make it difficult to have the number of bodies in the courtroom during trials they would like. But still they're prepared to take action if necessary.

"If there is a shooting here, yes, we are prepared to respond to it and to handle the situation. The training here today is to try to mitigate everyone else here before the back up actually gets to the courthouse," says investigator Watkins.

But if someone does make it past the guards, and into the courtroom, these men and women are a little more prepared to fight back. Feedback