Building and Exterior Security


Site and Perimeter

Whenever possible, the courthouse should be set back from the perimeter of the property to protect the exterior from vehicular attack. Decorative walls, bollards, planters, berms or other structures may be used to prevent vehicles from approaching too close to the building. Secure the site and perimeter in the following ways:

  • Clearly define the perimeter of the courthouse grounds using fences, walls, or other physical barriers. All exposed fixtures should be weather and tamper resistant.
  • Maintain clear access routes for first responders.
  • Illuminate the exterior of the building, site perimeter, walkways, and drives and parking areas.
  • Determine appropriate standoff distance from the street (a minimum of 50 feet from the curb is suggested).
  • Provide appropriate barriers to prevent a vehicle from approaching the building and adequate protection from potential blast effects, when adequate standoff cannot be provided.
  • Utilize natural barriers such as trees, and constructed barriers such as planting boxes, heavy masonry benches and tables, access ramps with masonry walls, fences, and bollards.
  • Build in landscaping such as planters against the building up to window height provide a barrier to vehicles without elevating the building.
  • Utilize retaining walls to define the property boundary and serve as barriers within the landscape design.
  • Ensure landscaping features such as trees and fences do not hinder visibility or provide the opportunity for concealment of people or vehicles.
  • Eliminate landscape features that provide places for potential intruders to hide weapons or other dangerous items.
  • Ensure video camera sightlines are not be impeded by leaf canopies and that no areas are hidden from overhead observation.

Windows and Glazing

The most severe injuries in an explosion are the result of shattered glass. Choices range from regular glazing such as would be used in a general office building, to either bullet-resistant or attack-resistant glazing. Bullet-resistant glazing is designed to withstand the impact of a high-velocity projectile but generally does not withstand low velocity heavy objects (such as a chair or brick) or the impact of a bomb blast. Assess the risks for your courthouse, and select glazing for exterior windows and doors that is best suited to addressing those risks.

At a minimum, all ground floor windows and doors should be equipped with attack resistant glazing to prevent breakage from vandalism or storms.


To help protect judges and elected officials with offices in the courthouse, provide for separate public and secure parking areas. Public parking should be built adjacent to the courthouse with a minimum 100 foot separation.

The sally port for prisoner transport should not share an entrance with either public or secure parking.

No public parking should be located under or in the courthouse.