A new law (Chapter 225 of the Public Acts of 1995) requires counties to review the security needs of the county's courtrooms. Every county is required to form a court security committee composed of the following officials:
* county executive
* district attorney general
* the presiding judge of the judicial district
* court clerk to be designated by the presiding judge
The court security committee is charged with examining space and facilities to determine the security needs of the courtrooms in the county in order to provide safe and secure facilities.
The administrative office of the courts will distribute to each court security committee a copy of the minimum security standards as adopted by the Tennessee Judicial Conference, and each committee is required to review and consider these standards in determining court security needs. Also, a Courthouse Security Report has been prepared for the administrative office of the courts which can aid the committee in its efforts.
The court security committee must make annual reports of their findings to the county legislative body by May 15 of each year. Therefore, the first report is due May 15, 1996. The county legislative body is required to review and consider the recommendations of the court security committee when preparing the budget for the next fiscal year. The county legislative body is required to report to the administrative office of the courts on actions taken to meet security needs no later than December 1 of each year. The administrative office of the courts will report to the General Assembly by January 15, 1997, and each year thereafter, on the compliance by each county government with the security needs established by the court security committee.
Although the county legislative body has the authority to approve or not approve any recommendation of the court security committee that involves the appropriation of funds, the county legislative body is obligated to give the report of the committee serious consideration. Analysis of courtroom security is a sophisticated process that will require time and expertise. Dealing with threats to security can involve the entire courthouse and many offices and agencies. Acceptable security measures include procedures, contingency plans and security training, as well as possible changes or additions to the courthouse. Therefore, it is important that the court security committee be formed at an early date and that work begin. Additional information may be obtained from the administrative office of the courts.
The contact person at the administrative office of the courts is Ms. Sherry Ross who may be reached at 615-741-2687.