Court Security

Following courthouse prank, Delaware courts are reviewing which security officers should be armed

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Court officials in Delaware are reviewing which security officers should carry guns following a reported courthouse prank earlier this month that allegedly involved a firearm.

“The Judiciary has been actively working on its policies regarding courthouse security and who should have firearms and has sought advice from the best sources,” spokesman Sean O’Sullivan told the News Journal on Tuesday.

The News Journal reported on Monday, relying on unnamed sources, that a prosecutor and a court bailiff had been suspended as the Delaware Capitol Police investigate an incident at the Sussex County Courthouse during the first week of February.

Adam Gelof, the lawyer identified by the newspaper as the suspended prosecutor, told the News Journal in a text message that he had “involved a bailiff in a practical joke,” acting in response to an earlier practical joke in which the Gelof was the target. The unnamed sources told the News Journal that the bailiff had entered a side room and pointed a gun at another prosecutor.

“I knew this was going to be received as intended as just a practical joke,” Gelof wrote. “Obviously I am professionally and personally embarrassed for all involved that my actions have resulted in this matter going this far.”

Officials declined to discuss specifics of the courthouse incident, citing policies against commenting on internal security matters, personnel matters and pending investigations. However, “a deputy attorney general has been suspended with pay pending an ongoing investigation,” said Carl Kanefsky, a state department of justice spokesman.

The newspaper could not reach the suspended bailiff and said a lawyer representing him did not respond to a request for comment.

Prior to the incident, some Delaware court bailiffs were armed and some were not, the newspaper said. But last week Superior Court President Judge Jan Jurden decided that bailiffs would no longer be armed in court, the News Journal reported, again relying on unidentified sources. The policy would not affect Delaware Capitol Police, who are responsible for staffing court security checkpoints.

“Although we cannot comment on these specific incidents, they confirm the judiciary’s belief that we need to continue to work with our Capitol Police partners to make our courthouses as safe as possible,” O’Sullivan, who serves as chief of community relations for the Delaware courts, told the newspaper on Tuesday.

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