JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford wants it to be easier to tell who is armed and who isn’t inside the Duval County Courthouse. Starting Tuesday, a new policy takes effect prohibiting non-uniformed law enforcement officers from carrying guns inside.
Local attorney Dale Carson, a former undercover FBI agent, agrees with the concept.
"If you're in uniform, it's easy to know who you are. If you're not in uniform, it clearly is not easy to know who you are and I think they're trying to prevent a tragedy from occurring in the Duval County Courthouse,” he said.
Carson believes the problem with letting armed officers wearing plainclothes into the courthouse is twofold. One, they could be disarmed by someone. Two, if an emergency were to break out, he believes uniformed police should be able to tell where the weapons are.
"If you're not in uniform and you're undercover, or you're in street clothes, the other officers who are there in uniform, the bailiffs, don't have any way of knowing precisely who you are," said Carson.
But not everyone is on board.
According to the Fraternal Order of Police, many undercover members are unhappy with the new policy which mandates them to either check their guns at the entrance or leave them in their car.
But Carson, who has to work there regularly, says if you don’t like it, don’t come.
"The courthouse is overall a fairly safe place and the officers who have a concern, who are working undercover, shouldn't be in the courthouse in the first place,” said Carson.
Judges are the lone exception to the new policy. They are allowed to be armed by state law.