Emergency planning & Security

Report shows how state courts are facing security challenges

The NCSC's analysis of security assessments it has conducted on more than 225 court buildings in recent years has been published in Status of Court Security in State Courts – A National Perspective.

The report, funded by a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, also includes a comprehensive analysis of the information and data gathered by the Center for Judicial and Executive Security (CJES) examining court building shootings, bombings, arson attacks, and other court-targeted acts of violence from 1970 to 2012.  Finally, the NCSC’s new publication includes data from extensive web and phone surveys of court and law-enforcement officials nationwide.

Court building security: Lessons learned, and best practices

Representatives from six courthouses where shootings and stabbings have occurred met at NCSC's Denver offices in August, 2013, to compare their experiences -- and to try to determine some lessons learned that might help their counterparts in courthouses throughout the country.

In their own words: "If your courthouse has been free of violence for the past 50 years, that is no assurance that it will not become the scene of violence tomorrow."

Their hard-earned advice and guidance is offered in this publication: Courthouse Violence in 2010-2012 - Lessons Learned.

Other useful guides for improved court security:

  • Steps to Best Practices for Court Building Security. Revised in 2013, this report defines best practices in various areas of court building security. 
  • Guidelines for Implementing Best Practices in Court Building Security. In addition to Steps, this NCSC publication covers the priority and phases of security implementation.

Find out more about the steps and guidelines >

Home Security Audit and Recommendations. This audit checklist identifies security risks for judges and other judicial branch personnel. Its recommendations can help protect them and their families at home and while traveling.

Emergency Preparedness

See how the Louisiana courts prepared for Hurricane Isaac in September 2012 and averted serious problems as a result of their Emergency Preparedness planning following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Louisiana document contains a best practices template and an in-depth look at the steps they took to develop a success plan:

NCSC Disaster Preparedness - Louisiana Summary 

Louisiana’s template on emergency preparedness best practices

COOP

COOP stands for continuity of operations; courts develop a COOP plan to ensure they know what to do if faced with an emergency that threatens continuation of normal operations. Traditionally, a COOP plan is developed and implemented for situations in which the courthouse or court-related facilities are threatened or inaccessible (e.g., as a result of a natural or man-made disaster). A traditional COOP plan establishes effective processes and procedures to quickly deploy pre-designated personnel, equipment, vital records and supporting hardware and software to an alternative site to sustain organizational operations for up to 30 days. It also covers the resumption of normal operations after the emergency has ended.

State Courthouse Operations and Security Statistics Survey: Development and Design

This BJS-funded pilot project will develop data collection instruments and methodology to evaluate court security.
Judges, employees, and others who work in or must use our nation’s courthouses are collectively at potential risk of becoming victims of hostile acts, including harassment, threats, physical attacks, and even death.

Who is at risk? How serious is the danger?  How frequently do attacks occur? These and similar questions must be answered so that appropriate steps can be taken to insure that courts remain safe forums for the impartial resolution of disputes. Information about the most fundamental characteristics of courthouse violence and the counter-measures that courts have taken in response to real or perceived violence remains elusive, to the detriment of those who seek to develop effective policies and procedures to guarantee courthouse security.

Past projects > 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004

2012

Security Improvements and Courthouse Assessment for the Alaska Court System (SJI Grant), 2012

Court Security and Technology Planning for the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community (subcontractor to Gould Evans), 2012

Courthouse Security Review for the Twenty-third Judicial District of Louisiana (Gonzales), 2012

Courthouse Security Review for the Thirty-sixth Judicial District of Louisiana (DeRidder), 2012

Security Assessment of Charles County, Maryland, Circuit Courthouse, 2012

Improve Security at Court Facilities for the Fourth Judicial District, Minnesota, 2012

Courthouse Security Assessment of Cibolo, Texas, Municipal Court, 2012

2011

Dual State Coordinated Court Security Training for Judges, Court Staff and the Court Security Officers in the Indiana and Maryland Court Systems (SJI Grant), 2011

Assistance with Determining Best Practices for Court Security and Threat Reporting for the California Administrative Office of the Courts, 2011

Security Review to Satisfy Requirements of the New Jersey Model Security Plan for the Vicinage of Essex, New Jersey, 2011

2010

Courthouse Security Assessment for the Municipal Court of Mesa, Arizona, 2010

Courthouse Security Assessment for Judiciary for State of Hawaii (SJI Grant), 2010

Courthouse Building Security Assessment for the Fourth Judicial District, Omaha, Nebraska (SJI Grant), 2010

Reassessment Security Analysis for the Maryland Judiciary, Administrative Office of the Courts, 2010

2009

U.S. Marshal’s Service Court Security Seminar III (SJI Grant), 2009

Review of Inmate Holding, Court Security Standards, and Courthouse Facility Standards for the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County, 2009

Building Security Assessment for the Maricopa County, Arizona, Superior Court, 2009

Courthouse Security Needs Assessment for the Supreme Court of Louisiana, Office of the Judicial Administrator, 2009

Training for U.S. Marshal’s Service (Follow-up Program) (SJI Grant) Security Assessment and Strategic Planning Services for the Oregon Judicial Department, 2009

Courthouse Entry and Security Screening Operations Assessment of the Accomack Circuit Court, Second Judicial Circuit Accomac, Virginia (TechnicalAssistance), 2009

Creation of a Self Help Video to Assist Courts with a Pandemic Flu Epidemic “COOP Planning: Maintaining the Rule of Law—Planning for a Pandemic within an All-Hazards Context” (SJI Grant), 2009

Continuity of Operations (COOP) Consulting Services for the District of Columbia Courts, 2009

Assistance in Planning and Conducting Three Emergency Management and Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP) Training Summits for the Georgia Administrative Office of Courts, 2009

Develop and Test an Emergency Response and Continuity of Operations Plan for the Vermont Supreme Court, 2009

2008

Training for U.S. Marshal’s Service (Pilot Program) (SJI Grant), 2008

Court Security Practices for the Superior Court of Maricopa County, Arizona Court Tower Building, 2008

Review Screening Areas at the Main and West Entrances of the Central Courts Building for the Superior Court of Maricopa County, Arizona, 2008

Review of Court Security Manuals for the Superior Court of Maricopa County, Arizona, 2008

Review Court Security Training Programs for Judges, Court Staff, and Court Security Officers for the Superior Court of Maricopa County, Arizona, 2008

Develop a Curriculum for Training Court Security Officers and Provide Initial Training for a Core Group for the Supreme Court of Arkansas, Administrative Office of the Courts, 2008

Security Assessment for the Sheriff’s Department, County of San Diego California (Ten Courthouses), 2008

Security Assessment of the Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, Boston, Massachusetts, 2008

Provide Training on Development and Implementing Emergency Preparedness and Security Plans for the Arkansas Administrative Office of the Courts, 2008

Review Policies and Guidelines on Emergency Preparedness and Security for the Supreme Court of Arkansas, 2008

Emergency Preparedness Training for the New Mexico Administrative Office of the Courts, 2008

2007

Court Security Assessment for Orange County Superior Court (Santa Ana), California (Nine Courthouses), 2007

Court Security and Disaster Recovery Standards Development Project for the Kansas Judicial Branch, 2007

Emergency Preparedness Consulting for the Texas Supreme Court, 2007

Review of the Disaster Preparedness and Continuity of Operations Plan for the New Hampshire Judicial Branch (Technical Assistance), 2007

Review of Emergency Preparedness Plans for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court, Florida, 2007

Review of Emergency Preparedness Standards for the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (Technical Assistance), 2007

Review of Emergency Response Plans for the Department of Public Safety, State of New York Unified Court System (Technical Assistance), 2007

Security Assessment of the Municipal Court of Atlanta, Georgia, 2007

2006

Courthouse Security Assessment for the Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts (37 Courthouses/buildings), 2006

Personal Safety Training and Courtroom Staff Training for Judges in Essex and Middlesex Vicinages, New Jersey, 2006

Personal Safety Training for Judges and State Court Staff for the Fulton County, Georgia State Court, 2006

Security Assessment of Courthouses in Harris County (Houston), Texas (Six Courthouses), 2006

Security Review and Facilites Assessment for Snohomish County (Everett), Washington (Three Courthouses), 2006

Courthouse and Courtroom Security Review for the Fulton County, Georgia Superior Court, Fifth Judicial District (Three Courthouses) 2006

2005

General Physical Security Review for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court Dade County (Miami), Florida (Ten Courthouses), 2005

Organizational Assessment of the Marshal’s Division for Seattle, Washington Municipal Court, 2005

Overland Park (Kansas) Municipal Court Facility Security Renovation Planning Project, 2005

2004

18th Judicial Circuit, Illinois, Security Presentation, 2004