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Judge decides to pack a pistol

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Dec. 26 (UPI) -- A female judge in Alabama, concerned about court security cutbacks, says she is keeping both a gun and pepper spray next to her gavel.

Jefferson County Domestic Judge Suzanne Childers was prompted to get qualified to bring a gun to court after hearing a child support case a few weeks ago that necessitated her setting off her panic device, The Birmingham (Ala.) News reported Saturday.

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Because 46 sheriff deputies have been laid off due to budget constraints, court security has dropped off and help didn't arrive for 40 minutes, the newspaper said.

"Both the county and the state are having shortages in funding, so we're having to do our best with what resources we have available," said Scott Vowell, the presiding judge in Jefferson County.

Security guards and bailiffs also handle court security but they're limited to building, not courtroom security, said Jeff Smith, director of the county's general services department.

"We need some help," Childers said. "I am just really concerned that someone is going to get hurt in my courthouse because, I hate to say it, but it's an angry courthouse. Every day people come to court, someone is angry at someone else."

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