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Review on Courthouse Violence With Focus on Preparedness and Security

Developed with support from SJI, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) recently released a report titled, Courthouse Violence in 2010-2012, Lessons Learned (SJI-13-T-089). Through review of six tragic incidents of violence in court facilities or on premises occurring between December 2011 and February 2013, the report provides judges, court administrators, and security officers with a tool that catalyzes preparedness and planning.

The report was written with the assistance of several state court judges and administrators who shared their experiences and voiced lessons they had learned first-hand from recent security incidents. These jurisdictions were represented by rural, urban, and most frequently, suburban communities located in South Carolina, Minnesota, Washington, Oklahoma, Delaware, and Arkansas.

The report reveals four key lessons learned, they include:

  • Everything during a violent courthouse incident happens unbelievably fast.
  • It may not be possible to prevent a violent incident, but there may be “indicators” to look for in advance of the incident.
  • There are obvious needs for certain security measures, and courts need to be proactive in making sure those measures are in place.
  • There must be a focus on the impact of these incidents on court staff and their families.

Recommendations addressing each of these lessons learned, with input from NCSC Court security experts are included in the report. They provide valuable considerations for state courts to consider as they evaluate their emergency plans.

The report is available through the NCSC Library eCollection.