Courthouse attack won’t lead to more officers, but may increase vigilance

Dimond Courthouse
Judges and the parties in hearings may request more security after a recent alleged assault at the Dimond Courthouse in Juneau, pictured here in February 2017. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Juneau’s Dimond Courthouse won’t be adding another security officer as a result of a recent alleged assault in a court room. But the Alaska State Troopers say they’ll guarantee that there is an officer or trooper in any courtroom where they’re specifically requested.

On Aug. 6, 26-year-old Tyler Leatham allegedly attacked his grandmother Konnie Chitty. It occurred during a hearing over whether the state would become Leatham’s guardian. Chitty said Leatham has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and had just been released from jail after another alleged assault against her in February.

It took 11 minutes for an officer to arrive.

The incident may make parties, lawyers and judges more likely to request an officer, said Lt. John Brown, deputy commander for the troopers’ detachment in Ketchikan.

“Hopefully, they’re able to look at that information prior to going to the hearing and say: ‘You know, this person has displayed aggressive behavior in the past and maybe we should have some type of security here at the court room when this hearing happens’,” Brown said.

Brown noted that officers are automatically assigned to hearings with prisoners.

While the courthouse had three officers in the past, Brown said one of the officer’s positions was converted into a trooper position.

Andrew Kitchenman

State Government Reporter, Alaska Public Media & KTOO

State government plays an outsized role in the life of Alaskans. As the state continues to go through the painful process of deciding what its priorities are, I bring Alaskans to the scene of a government in transition.

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