Minden Press-Herald

Tuesday
Sep 30th

Officials in harm’s way

Marvin mugThe killings of two Texas prosecutors have raised questions about the safety of those who confront evil for a living.

Webster Parish Sheriff's Chief Deputy Bobby Igo, Jr., said it's up to law enforcement to stay a step ahead of the ones who would harm these officials.

"The bad guy always knows what he's going to do," Igo said. "He knows what's going to happen and where it's going to happen. We (law officers) have to figure it out."

District Attorney Mike McLelland of Kaufman County, Texas, and his wife were found shot to death Saturday inside their home.

Bossier-Webster District Attorney Schuyler Marvin said the recent incidents have made him more aware of his surroundings.

"Everything I do today is different from the way I did it a week ago," Marvin said. "We can all better protect ourselves ... we all sometimes let our guard down, but we don't want to live like prisoners, either."

Two months before McLelland and his wife were killed, Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was gunned down as he was walking to the courthouse.

According to Igo, sheriff's deputies monitor the courthouse in several ways.

"We are contracted by the Webster Parish Police Jury to man the front door of the courthouse," he said. "We have three armed bailiffs in the courtrooms, and we have our patrol and criminal investigative divisions in the courthouse. On a day-to-day basis, we have numerous officers there that are armed, as well as metal detectors on the front doors."

However, nothing is fool-proof, Igo pointed out.

"If there is a threat, or we feel there is a high-profile case, the sheriff will have armed officers wearing plain clothes in the courtroom," he said. "We take precautionary measures."

Recently, he said, one of the 26th Judicial District Judges received threats.

"When he appears over here, we still take that seriously," Igo said. "We want him to notify us when he's coming to town."

Marvin, who has been district attorney since 2003, said courthouse security has changed "drastically."

"It's 100 percent different from when I took office," he said. "Everything is about security in both courthouses in my district."

About every two months, he said, meetings are held to discuss security.

Marvin said many of the district attorneys he knows have concealed/carry permits for firearms.

"A lot of us didn't have one ... and a lot are considering getting them and carrying firearms," he said. "I've been the victim of a car burglary where a firearm was stolen from me twice. Both of them were solved, and I have it back. I'm a lot more careful about that, obviously.

"I'm definitely taking a second look at everything I do, including my family," he continued.

A threat doesn't always come from the bad guy, either, Igo said.

"If it's a case involving a child, the threat may be against the person on trial from the public," he said. "Sometimes innocent bystanders get hurt, but as far as targeting the district attorney or a judge, it's few and far between."

Igo was very complimentary of the safety measures implemented by John Stanley, local director of Homeland Security.

"He never gets the recognition he deserves," Igo said. "John thinks this all the time. He's looking at this and looking at ways to improve security at the courthouse all the time. He and the sheriff have been in on many meetings concerning security. It's an on-going thing."

Marvin said he knows everyone can't be protected all the time.

"We're a lot better off today than we were," he said. "I'm not saying something like happened in Kaufman County couldn't happen here ... it can."

 

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