Boyle County Courthouse bailiff a jack of all trades

Published 6:58 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Every time someone enters the Boyle County Courthouse — whether to renew a driver’s license, check on a deed, pay a fine or go to court — bailiffs are on duty to ensure the security of the public and court officials in the building.

Tom Stocker is one of several bailiffs who greet folks as they come through the doors.

“We’re the first line of defense,” said John Westerfield, his partner for the day.

Boyle County Courthouse bailiff Tom Stocker answers the phone as he watches live security camera videos of locations throughout the building. Photo by Robin Hart.

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Stocker agreed and said checking everyone’s pockets and purses for weapons is a safety precaution.

Most courthouse visitors don’t have a problem with being scanned for weapons and realize it’s for their own safety, Stocker said. But every now and then, someone tries to get through security who doesn’t want to be searched. “They come in with a burr under their saddle.”

Then he laughed and said the way to handle that situation is to be nice to them. “It makes them feel so bad.”

Before becoming a part-time bailiff three years ago, Stocker had worked at ATR for 28 years before it went out of business. He then worked at Wausau Paper in Harrodsburg for another 13 years before retiring. But he’s only semi-retired, Stocker said.

He’s also a licensed funeral director at Preston Pruitt Funeral Home, a job he’s held for 29 years.

All of the bailiffs rotate around to different areas of the courthouse. “That way you don’t get burned out,” Stocker said.

One day he will be watching security camera video monitors in the small office by the entrance and scanning people with a security wand. The next day he could be in district, circuit or family court. Stocker said the bailiffs stay in the courtrooms “to make sure they behave themselves and assist the judge if need be. We’re officers of the court.”

The best part of the job for Stocker is being able to talk to people.

“I was brought up to treat people with respect. We’re here on this earth for a reason,” Stocker said.

“We’ve got a good bunch of people here,” Stocker said about the bailiffs. Then he added, “We’re here to get out of the house.”