Courtroom Security: Behind Closed Doors
The responsibility of protecting county courtrooms, judges, jury members, court employees, witnesses, and all citizens who attend court hearings and trials, falls on the shoulders of the county sheriff. The sheriff is also responsible for transporting jail inmates to and from their court appearances, and for guarding the prisoners while they’re inside the courthouse.
US Marshals have the responsibility of providing security and prisoner transport for federal courts.
Sheriffs deputies employed as court security officers undergo special training related to working in a court environment. However, depending on an individual sheriff’s policy, court security officers may, or may not, be certified police officers.
The sergeant in the above photograph (you can tell he’s a sergeant by the three stripes on his sleeve and collar insignia) is in charge of all courtroom security operations. In addition to supervising the deputies working in the various courtrooms, he’s responsible for delivering each prisoner to the correct courtroom on time.
Closed circuit cameras in each courtroom and other strategic locations, project real-time images to the security office. Judges also have panic buttons beneath their benches. A press of the button sends an emergency signal to the security office, and to police dispatchers and the nearby sheriffs office.
Deputies gather chains in preparation of transporting prisoners back to jail.
Court security officers must learn to use various screening devices, such as hand-held metal detecting wands and x-ray equipment.
Monitors for x-ray equipment.
Officer stationed at x-ray machine and walk-through metal detector.
Prisoner holding cell in court basement near the security office. Prisoners are brought to the courthouse where they’ll wait in these cells until their case is called. When their trial is complete prisoners return to the holding cells until deputies transport them back to jail.
*Remember, individual agency policies, rules, and procedures may vary.
Sometimes it’s like you read my mind, like you know what I need to know. I’m planning a courtroom scene in my next book, and this will be invaluable. Got a question for you. Are people who are released on bail or bond brought to these holding cells or do they wait somewhere else?