At least five criminal court judges in Austin, Tx., plan to prohibit law enforcement officers who are not in uniform from bringing guns into their courtrooms, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Their decisions come seven months after an Austin police officer in street clothes left his gun in a public bathroom while waiting to testify in a felony trial. The gun was safely recovered, but the incident rattled some judges, who began discussing courthouse security with sheriff’s department officials.
Although members of the public are prohibited from bringing weapons into the justice center, sheriff’s deputies who secure the building carry guns. Law enforcement officers from other agencies – who come to the building to testify, to have warrants signed by judges and for other reasons – have long been allowed to carry their weapons into courthouses. The sheriff’s department plans to install lockers near the building entrance where law enforcement officers could secure their guns for the judges who do not want the weapons in their courts.