The money is coming from a court security grant program of the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts. The grant, which includes a 10 percent match by the county, includes $4,580 for a metal detector, $1,650 to train six courtroom bailiffs and $6,630.34 to install panic buttons and strobe lights in the courtrooms.
Chancellor John Rambo, who is the chairman of Washington County’s Courthouse Security Committee, said the items are a continuation of improvements made to the justice center in 2018. Those upgrades include new key pads, replacing security card readers and purchasing a flat-bed scanner.
“I think all the folks who work for the court system like the improvements,” Rambo said. “We are minimizing as many risks as we can.”
The chancellor said the addition of the panic buttons and strobe lights for the center’s courtrooms are key to improving safety at the facility. He said the strobe lights will better alert bailiffs to trouble in the courtrooms when the panic buttons are activated.
“The response time will be much quicker,” Rambo said.
County officials also hope to soon add an audio alarm to the security system.
The state grant provides funding to train six new bailiffs, including the operation of new scanners to move people quickly into secure areas of the justice center. Rambo said he and his colleagues on the Security Committee are reviewing new policies when it comes to items that can be brought into the justice center.
Specifically, Rambo said that includes briefcases and purses. Cell phones are not included among the banned items.
“We are trying to avoid long lines at the security check points,” he said. “We are encouraging folks to leave their bags in their cars.”