Two months before the Atlanta courthouse shootings, sheriff’s officials changed the way they responded to emergencies in a way that may have cost valuable time and perhaps lives, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Deputies responsible for issuing security alerts were ordered to verify emergencies before sending anyone to respond, in order to cut down on responses to false alarms. On March 11, when a deputy received an alarm from the courtroom where escaped prisoner Brian Nichols was on a rampage. The deputy tried four times to verify that the emergency was real before sending help.
Sgt. Hoyt Teasley, who was killed by Nichols, was the supervisor who issued the directive that may have cost him his life. Paul Tamer, the deputy in the control room that Friday morning, had complained to his superiors that Teasley’s directive was unwise. “I think that it is far more prudent to continue dispatching deputies to office and [judges’] chamber alarms rather than risking injury or death to a judge or staff member,” Tamer wrote the court security chief.