Violence in Courts Prompts Action near Kansas City

Thefts, threats and physical violence call for security changes at courthouse

In another case reported to the group, a visiting judge in a murder trial this month was followed as he left the building. A deputy escorted the judge to his car.

Williamson reminded them about a 1992 court shooting in St. Louis County, in which a man shot his wife to death and wounded four others at a divorce hearing.

"At the time that happened there was a meeting of officials talking about what they were going to do about courthouse security," Williamson said. "They were too late."

The group agreed to meet again soon, after an ongoing audit on courthouse security is complete.

Platte County Circuit Judge Lee Hull said the county has no immediate plans to upgrade security beyond metal detectors and armed deputies in courts. He is concerned about the increasing danger.

Years ago, Hull said, he used to hold weekend and evening court sessions along with only his clerk.

"That is a thing of the past; you'd have to have a mental health check if you did that today," he said.

Wyandotte County District Court has added two metal detectors and employee pass cards. Changes are on the way in Jackson County, including video cameras for entrances and an employee pass card system.