Northampton adds court bailiffs

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 24, 2006

JACKSON – Sheriff Wardie Vincent and the Northampton County Commissioners took steps to improve courtroom security here Monday.

On the suggestion of Vincent, the board approved the addition of two bailiff positions for the sheriff’s office to help provide better security for court officers and citizens.

In the wake of what happened in our courthouse on July 12, I have been looking at ways to make our courthouse as secure as possible and this is one of the ways,” the sheriff said.

On July 12, inmate Willie Forrest, who was appearing before the court on a murder charge, became enraged and wrestled a weapon away from a Department of Corrections officer. After he began firing, officers in the court, including Bailiff Joe Magee responded. The result was the inmate being shot and killed.

“It is very important that we have enough help to maintain security in the courthouse at all times,” Vincent said. “From time to time I am limited with staff and may have three or four courts in session consecutively.”

Commissioner Robert V. Carter (D-2nd) said he would like to hear from County Manager Wayne Jenkins.

“I support the sheriff in his effort to support the needs of citizens,” Jenkins said.

The manager added his belief Vincent had funds due to hiring lags that would make up for the funding requirement.

Jenkins also said he and the sheriff had been discussing the addition of bailiff positions since long before July 12.

Commissioner James C. Boone (D-3rd) made the motion to add the two bailiff positions with Commissioner Fannie P. Greene (D-5th) offering a second. It passed without objection.

In other business, the Board:

* declined to allow Vincent to upgrade the position of Records Clerk to Records Communicator despite his having funds available to cover the $2,106 cost;

* approved bid work to allow the final work to be done on the Nature Trail in the county;

* gave the green light to the 2006-2007 secondary road project;

* removed the 5/12 roof pitch from the Zoning Ordinance; and

* postponed a discussion about Courthouse Security until their next meeting.