Court security officers, also known as marshals or bailiffs, are trained and certified law enforcement officers who specialize in maintaining order and safety in courtrooms. While specific duties vary depending on location, bailiffs are generally responsible for enforcing a judge's courtroom rules, assisting judges in managing behavior during court proceedings, protecting jury members from contact with press or case participants, and managing overall courthouse security.
Education and Certification Requirements
Court security officers must be at least 18 or 21 years old, depending on the state's age requirements for law enforcement officers. Candidates must possess at least a high school diploma or GED, but ideally will have a degree in a related field, such as criminal justice, corrections, public safety or legal studies. Bailiffs must satisfy specific training and certification requirements according to their jurisdiction before being approved for work in a courthouse or courtroom.
Salary and Benefits
The salary for a court security officer varies by region, state and jurisdiction. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010-2011, bailiff salaries range between $19,000 to $61,500, with an average salary of $37,820 for bailiffs employed by federal, state or county governments. Salaries for court security officers employed by local governments is slightly lower, at $32,690 per year. Standard benefits offered to public service employees, such as medical insurance, life insurance, paid time off, and retirement planning or pension, are usually available to bailiffs after an introductory employment period.
Court security officers usually work a standard 40-hour workweek, from the opening of the courthouse to closing. Because some judges and court employees arrive early or stay late, bailiffs may be employed on a rotating shift basis to ensure that security is present any time people are inside the courthouse. While the courthouse environment is not as hazardous as a prison or jail, bailiffs are still correctional officers, and must be prepared to face dangerous situations in the course of a normal workday.
More than 20,000 individuals are employed as bailiffs in the United States. Job growth is expected to rise at an average rate, with employment opportunities growing by about 9 percent within the next decade. Increases in the general population, and in the number of civil and criminal cases filed each year, will cause an increased demand for the presence of security officers in courthouses.
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