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Myles: Cops can't carry into court

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By Nathan L. McBroom

Like most judges, John David Myles doesn't want guns to be brought into his courtroom. But, unlike most judges, Myles has even prohibited law-enforcement officers from packing heat in his courtroom.

And the decision has caused several local police officers to be up in arms.

Myles, who is the Family Court judge, said his decision is for the safety of those in the court.

"My policy has always been that the bailiffs, who are the people who have been specifically charged with the task, are to be the only ones who bring firearms into the courtroom," he said. "And I don't want anyone else to having firearms in my courtroom."

Shelbyville Police Chief Bob Schutte sees the situation differently.

He said by prohibiting officers from having their weapons, Myles is putting them at risk.

"I just don't think that it is a safe scenario for some of my guys to be there in uniform and to be unarmed," he said. "There is a good chance, considering that they are in court, that there are some people there that don't like them."

He said his officers have been asked "more than once" to remove their weapons before entering Myles' courtroom.

Schutte said that an officer's weapon is part of the uniform, just as much as their badge.

He said Family Court has a tendency for tensions and emotion to run high.

"The potential is there for things to go bad quickly," he said. "And they have."

Shelby County Sheriff Mike Armstrong agreed.

"I wouldn't want a officer sitting there and not being able to defend themselves," he said. "In fact, I'm glad to know that they are armed while they're in court."

County deputies are allowed to carry their weapons in Family Court because they are considering servants of the court.

State Trooper Ron Turley, Public Relations Officer the Kentucky State Police said when state trooper are asked to remove their weapons in court, they will comply.

"It's his courtroom. If that is what he wants done, then we will comply," he said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Schutte and Armstrong met with Myles concerning the issue. Myles was asked to review his policy, and he said he is doing so.

Schutte said the legality of Myles prohibition is in question.

"By statute, I know that the judge controls that courtroom, but according to the Attorney General's opinion, I'm not so sure," he said.

Schutte referenced a 1997 decision that states:

"Peace officers and certified court security officers, when necessary for their protection in the discharge of their official duties...may carry concealed weapons on or about their person."

Schutte said that includes appearing in court to testify.

When contacted by The Sentinel-News, the Kentucky Attorney General's office said the issue was under the jurisdiction of the Administrative Office of the Courts. However, when that office was asked about the situation, it responded with this statement:

"The Administrative Office of the Courts serves only in an administrative support role for Kentucky's elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. It is not the AOC's role to oversee a judge's decision in these types of situations. Also, we are not aware of any other judges' practices on this topic."