Juveniles caught with loaded guns

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; One boy walked into the Juvenile Justice Center Thursday with two fully loaded automatic pistols in his pockets. Another boy had a knife.

A sheriff&8217;s deputy caught the two, but only after they had made their way into the building and up the stairs. They are being held at the juvenile detention center.

This event highlights the need for security at the juvenile justice center, Sheriff Ronny Brown said Friday.

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Normally, there is only a sheriff&8217;s deputy on guard at the center when court is in session, not on a regular basis, Brown said.

These two were only caught because someone alerted the sheriff&8217;s office, he said.

The only two full-time security personnel, Brown said, are at the courthouse.

The juvenile center has metal detectors and security equipment, Brown said, but there is no one to operate it on a daily basis.

&8220;It&8217;s a typical example of how you can get into (juvenile) court with a weapon,&8221; Brown said. &8220;We don&8217;t know what they were going to do. If (the officer) hadn&8217;t been there, we don&8217;t know what would have happened.&8221;

&8220;If we had had security, we would have caught them at the door,&8221; Brown said. &8220;They would never have gotten in the building.&8221;

Brown said the sheriff&8217;s office requested funding for five sheriff&8217;s deputies to cover the courthouse, juvenile justice and justice court. They received two for the courthouse.

After this incident, Brown said he would go to the board of supervisors and ask for more.

Juvenile Justice Court Judge John Hudson said although the incident involving the two boys was the first of its kind, security was a huge concern.

&8220;We have requested security in the past,&8221; Hudson said. &8220;We knew that if danger existed in Natchez, the most dangerous courtroom would be ours.&8221;

Hudson said he wanted more security for the protection of the staff and the public.

Board of Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said he had not seen a request to fund security at the juvenile center.

&8220;The only thing brought before the board is security at the courthouse,&8221; Grennell said.

Grennell said the board funded security at the courthouse as a first step and planned to gradually increasing funding.

He said if the sheriff&8217;s office asked the board for more money, it probably would not go into effect until the next fiscal year.