STONE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - There's another deputy at the Stone County Courthouse. But unlike the deputies who work various court cases or transport prisoners, this one is now specifically assigned to work at the courthouse. County officials said the move is meant to increase security.
Stone County Sheriff's deputy Heath Maddox is a welcome sight to so many in the building. The former road patrol deputy spent nine years in that division. Now, he's changed his routine to security at the courthouse.
"I do my walkthroughs throughout the building and if there's anything that arises throughout the day, I'm here for that occasion as well," said Maddox. "I do assist in circuit court and youth court."
Board members approved Maddox's position at the courthouse during the last board meeting. County officials said court cases can get pretty heated and two recent incidents of people acting out of line, along with the fear of mass shootings, sparked the decision to bring keep a deputy at the courthouse Monday through Friday.
"And that's what we all sat down and agreed on, that to be proactive and that hopefully if anything does such as that, this will prevent it from happening," said chancery clerk Gerald Bond. "In the nation we're living in now, it seems like just small things can spur to people to do irrational things."
Workers said having a full-time deputy dedicated to the courthouse gives them a sense of relief.
"We can do just so much to protect ourselves, use good thinking, but still it feels good to have a deputy and one that cares for us too," said Lynn Stokes, the chancery court clerk intake officer. "As women, as public servants, you never know when the public is going to turn on you."
Maddox will be armed at all times and has active shooter training.
"I'm just here in case anything happens. I'm the one to go to," he added.