The recent slayings of two prosecutors in northern Texas have district attorneys in Oklahoma rethinking ways to protect prosecutors and investigators charged with bringing criminals to justice.
“We've taken some steps, but it definitely deserves a closer look to see what additional changes need to be made,” Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn said this week. “This has made everyone more aware of the dangers of the job.”
On March 30, Kaufman County, Texas, District Attorney Mike McClelland and his wife were shot to death inside their Forney, Texas, home. The killings came two months after a prosecutor in McClelland's office was shot multiple times in an employee parking lot near his courthouse office in Kaufman, a small town southeast of Dallas.
“It creates a lot of concern, yeah, a lot of concern,” said James M. Boring, district attorney for Texas, Cimarron, Beaver and Harper counties. “I mean, especially in rural counties in the state.”
Boring said he has added extra security to protect his investigators.
“Maybe I need to be carrying one of those assault weapons with a 30-round clip,” Boring said with a chuckle. “It's pretty crazy.”
Hollis Thorp, district attorney for Woodward, Alfalfa, Dewey, Major and Woods counties, doesn't plan on taking additional precautions.
“It has to be taken seriously,” Thorp said. “But on the other hand, I don't want to go around living in fear.”
Mashburn said he has been in contact with the National District Attorneys Association and mentioned the possibility of having an outside agency perform a risk assessment to determine what can be done to better protect the state's prosecutors.
The district attorney said those and other safety measures will be discussed when district attorneys meet later this month in Oklahoma City.
“It's definitely something we're aware of,” Mashburn said. “These shootings have definitely brought security to the forefront of what we have been doing lately.”
Cleveland County, with 300,000 residents, is the state's third-most populous county, behind Oklahoma and Tulsa counties.