AOC Announces Court Security Grant Program for 2018

June 12, 2018

The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) has launched a second round of grants to help make Tennessee’s courthouses safer.

In accordance with Governor Bill Haslam’s budget, the Tennessee General Assembly has appropriated $2 million in funds for court security grants. Last year, similar grants led to significant security upgrades in 66 counties throughout the state.

Funding preference will be given to counties with courthouses that do not currently meet the present minimum courtroom security standards as well as counties that have experienced a courtroom security breach during the 12-month period of July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. When the first court security grant program was started in 2017 nearly half of Tennessee counties did not meet the standards while others had serious security deficiencies.

“We are so pleased to be able to announce a second round of grants to modernize courthouse security in Tennessee,” AOC Director Deborah Taylor Tate said. “Just as all Tennesseans should feel confident in the protection accorded to them by the rule of law, so, too, should anyone working or appearing in a Tennessee courthouse feel confident that they are operating in a safe and secure space. These grants demonstrate just how dedicated Tennessee’s elected officials are to making top-notch security a given at courthouses across the state.”

The 2017 grant program was undertaken in response to at least three major security breaches that had recently occurred in Tennessee courthouses, including one serious weapons incident.

That program attracted 70 grant applications requesting $5,769,923 in funds. As a result of that funding, courtrooms were updated with a variety of new pieces of security equipment depending on their needs, including hand-held metal detectors, panic buttons, bulletproof benches, video arraignment systems, and more.

The announcement of the new round of court security grants comes just months after the Tennessee Judicial Conference and the Tennessee General Sessions Judges Conference adopted new minimum courtroom security standards to promote the security and safety of members of the judiciary, court personnel, and the public. The standards were last updated in the 1990s.

The newly adopted standards add criteria and expand previous criteria to include areas beyond the courtroom where citizens often conduct business, such as the court clerk’s space.

The new, approved court security criteria include silent panic buttons on the bench and at the clerk’s counter, bullet-proof benches and court clerk work areas and having armed, uniformed guards in courtrooms during court sessions. View the new standards.

Court security grant applications will be accepted through August 10, 2018. For more information about the court security grant, please contact Barbara Peck at Barbara.peck@tncourts.gov or visit TNCourts.gov for grant application and information.

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