Carbon County Sheriff's Department swat team members deploy during an exercise at the court house on Dec. 17. The exercise presented a number of scenarios for police to handle. To see video of the this go to www.sunad.com.
Typically, the 7th District Court is a relatively quiet place. But, on Dec. 17, the Carbon County Sheriff's Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team conducted a training in the facility. In addition to the noise, the training itself brought a new understanding of what to do should a bad situation arise.
"I can honestly say that I don't think that we were fully aware of what to do prior to this training, so I feel that it was beneficial that way. We now have knowledge of what to do, and how to react in those situations," said Kyeigh Thompson, a court clerk.
The SWAT team normally trains year- round, however the courthouse setting was unusual. According to Sheriff James Cordova, the fact that the courthouse was involved was an effort on the part of judges and law enforcement; because they decided it would be beneficial to both agencies.
"Having a meeting with the judges and staff here, they asked that we do a training day with the SWAT team. We accommodated their needs and our needs, because it's good for both them and us. Good for them to see what to do in case of a hostage or active shooting situation and it gave the SWAT team a chance to evaluate the building," said Cordova.
A variety of scenarios were enacted, involving everything from hostages to unruly defendants in court settings. However, not every situation was known before hand to the team or the court staff, as severe situations arose without warning.
At one point in between trainings, an armed gunman came in, shot off some blanks from a track starting gun and demanded to see the judge. While the incident caught everyone off guard, it did bring to light certain issues regarding vulnerability of court staff. As a result they now have a better understanding of how to deal with such occurrences.
"It was actually very informative. It was a lot more realistic than I thought it would be and that's really helpful to us know what to do when something happens," said Cami Lancaster, a court clerk.
For the most part, according to the court staff, violence in the court room is a reality, however it isn't very common. They indicated that, once in a while, people who are under a lot of stress can get a little rowdy, but, so far, the bailiffs have resolved any problems before they could get out of hand.
"There was one time when a defendant did get out of hand, but the bailiffs secured her and it was handled well," said Ms. Lancaster.
After the training Sheriff Cordova and the supervising lieutenants indicated that everything went well.
They also believe that for the team to be prepared there is a need for constant training in situations such as the ones that were presented at the courthouse.