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Courthouse security guards to be given Tasers

Security Guard Services 

The Intelligencer

Handguns are out. Tasers are in, at least for the 24 security guards at the Bucks County Courthouse, said county director of emergency management John Dougherty. The security guards will also replace their traditional police officer uniforms with blazers, tan slacks, shirts and ties, Dougherty said. “What we looked at was the number of people who enter the courthouse every day. We felt that rather than having them armed with .40-caliber handguns in a crowded entryway, the Tasers would be safer because they’re a non-lethal means of control,” Dougherty said. He said that armed sheriff’s deputies are still available in the courthouse to respond to any incident that could call for lethal force. Bucks joins Delaware, Montgomery and Chester counties in providing what is called “soft security,” Dougherty said. Philadelphia has its own police force to provide security guard services and security guards in the city courthouse, Dougherty said. The security guards don’t agree and plan to file an unfair labor practice complaint with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board after Jan. 1, when the changes take place, said their attorney, Todd Eagen. “To us, this is a safety issue for the Bucks County guards, who are on the front line to provide security not only for employees that work at county facilities. They’re also concerned with their own safety,” he said. Meanwhile, Eagen said, he plans to contact other county officials because he believes the decision to “disarm” the guards is illegal because no one “bargained” with the union before reaching a decision to replace handguns with Tasers. “This is important, not only for the public’s safety, but for the security guards’ safety,” the lawyer said. Dougherty said the changes were the result of meetings involving him, a representative of the security guards and other county safety committee members. “If a security guard needs to discharge a .40-caliber handgun in a crowd, innocent people could get hurt, or worse. We’re still giving security guard personnel the capability to protect people and protect themselves,” he said.

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