Armed Saginaw bailiffs to get Tasers, ballistic vests

SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) — Saginaw County District Court bailiffs will soon carry Tasers and wear ballistic vests.

Dennis D. Mac Donnel, a court security specialist with the Michigan Supreme Court, recommended the move after observing the District Court in November, MLive reported.

“It is my recommendation for the court to equip court security personnel with firearms, Tasers, radios, ballistic-type vests and uniforms,” Mac Donnel wrote in a Dec. 7 letter.

Currently, the county’s five District Court courtrooms each have an armed bailiff who wears a county sheriff’s department uniform, but they do not carry Tasers or wear ballistic vests.

“I’d rather be proactive than reactive,” says Circuit Court Administrator Lance Dexter.

Dexter said the county is working to give the bailiffs Tasers and vests identical to those issued to deputies. He said consistency in the equipment is important.

Mac Donnel said bailiffs have a “complex” job as they act as a uniformed presence in addition to carrying out many tasks, including assisting in case management, serving as clerks by moving files in and out of the courtrooms and handling in-custody defendants.

“In an effort to protect the judge, court employees, visitors, and even the in-custody defendants,” Mac Donnel wrote, “the court security staff should be trained in the appropriate use of firearms and allowed to carry a weapon in the performance of their duties.”

As of now, the bailiffs in the district’s courtroom are retired police officers who already have had such training.

“What we’re trying to do is make it standard for all the bailiffs,” Dexter said.