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New security measures to be implemented at Johnson County courthouse

By Paula Walter

The Johnson County Courthouse Security Committee is in the process of making changes to the courthouse that will increase security measures.  The committee is made up of Sheriff Mike Reece, Chancellor John Rambo, Clerk and Master Sherrie Fenner, Mayor Larry Potter, and District Attorney General Tony Clark, or a representative from his office. Tennessee law states each county will form a security committee in order to determine the security needs of the courtrooms in the county in order to provide a safe and secure facility.
Representatives from the Peace Officers Standards Training Commission (POST) office in Nashville went through the courtroom and every office in the building checking for safety issues.  After the inspection, the committee was advised that new security measures needed to be put in place.
According to Sheriff Reece, POST informed the committee that the courthouse was very insecure and recommended changes be made to the building so there will only be one entrance. There will also be changes to the courtroom where the witnesses will no longer be sitting in close proximity to the jury for security reasons.  Locks on doors throughout the courthouse will be changed and will be keyless. “We are living in different times and security is a big issue,” said Reece.
According to Reece, the main entrance to the courthouse will be in the back of the building.  There will be a metal detector near the main entrance, as well as another new unit for the upper courtroom. A part-time person will need to be hired to man the entrance.  There will be several exit only doors.
According to Reece, the new detector, although very sensitive, will not pick up jewelry, implants or pacemakers.  However, it will pick up weapons or cell phones that may be hidden inside someone’s body.  “There are no cell phones allowed in the court room and no recording devices unless the judge okays it,” said Reece.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.