New Minimum Courtroom Security Standards Approved

The Tennessee Judicial Conference and the Tennessee General Sessions Judges Conference have adopted new minimum courtroom security standards to promote the security and safety of the members of the judiciary, court personnel, and the public. The standards were last updated in the 1990s.
In the past year, there have been at least three major security breaches in Tennessee courthouses, including a serious weapons incident here in Coffee County.
On Monday June 19, 2017 there was shooting inside the Coffee County Justice Center. An inmate was in the courthouse for a hearing on charges of domestic-related kidnapping, evading arrest and other charges.
The man attacked Deputy Wade Bassett as he was escorting the inmate to a transport van. The two engaged in a significant struggle with the inmate gaining control of the deputy’s weapon after severely biting Bassett’s hand. The man then shot the deputy, but his bullet proof vest protected him.
After making his way downstairs of the justice center the inmate then shot Deputy Wendell Bowen in the stomach, causing a severe injury.
Minutes later the inmate took his own life down the street from the Justice Center.
The new, approved court security criteria include:
(1) Silent bench and court clerk’s public transaction counter panic button connected directly to the sheriff’s department or police department.
(2) A bullet-proof bench and court clerk work area in courtrooms.
(3) Availability of armed, uniformed guard (court officer) in each courtroom during court sessions.
(4) Court security training for court officers. Court security briefing on annual basis for judicial staff and courthouse personnel.
(5) Hand-held detectors (minimum of 2) and/or magnetometers in each county to assure the safety in each courthouse or courtroom.
(6) Each court building shall have signage posted at each court access entrance stating that all persons are subject to search by security personnel. Prohibited items are subject to seizure and forfeiture. Prohibited items include, but are not limited to, the following: firearms; other forms of weaponry; and any item(s) that can be transformed into a weapon.
(7) Hand held inspection security mirror to be used to view under courtroom seating and other areas for safety in the courthouse and/or courtroom(s).