Improving Courthouse Security

By Richert, David | Judicature, March/April 2005 | Go to article overview

Improving Courthouse Security


Richert, David, Judicature


The National Center for State Courts has released a 10point blueprint for improving safety and security in state courthouses.

As an outcome of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and in response to urgent mandates from states to review all safety and security considerations, The center convened the Joint Committee on security and Emergency Preparedness, composed of members from the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and Council of State Court Administrators (COSCA). The committee conducted a state-by-state survey to determine needs and to begin identifying effective practices. It then compiled the survey data and began to frame solutions through the identification of 10 essential safety and security elements for courthouse safety and security planning.

The 10 elements are:

1. Operational security: Standard Operating Procedures

This is one of the most critical deficiencies in the state court system today. Standard operating procedures are not being followed-for full safety, there needs to be 100 percent compliance.

2. Facility security planning: self-audit surveys of court facilities

This point emphasizes the need to know the strengths and weaknesses of the physical structure of the courtroom to best protect the people inside.

3. Emergency preparedness and response: continuity of operations

At any moment, courts can be affected by natural or unnatural disasters; however, they must continue to operate and serve the public in such an event. There needs to be a greater awareness and identification of command structure, protocols, and communication routes for such emergencies and responses.

4. Disaster recovery: essential elements of a plan

The point emphasizes the need to ensure that adequate procedures are in place to recover lost or vulnerable information in the event of an emergency. …

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