Courthouse Security

The chief of security at the Warren County Justice Center wants an extra security measure put in place.

Sonya Corder works as a bench clerk for Judge Steve Wilson.

"I'm in charge of getting all the files ready for the judge. We tape all the proceedings," Corder said.

Corder also said while she feels secure in her job, there are times when a defendant has to approach the judge. In those situations, the accused has to stand right next to her.

"In the back of your mind, your sitting there thinking, even though you've got plenty of bailiffs around you that thought is always in the back of your mind - what happens if...," Corder said.

While the question of 'what happens if' is in her mind, according to those with the Warren County Justice Center, the justice center was built with security in mind. There are separate entrances for the public, staff and inmates. The inmates enter the justice center through a tunnel that connects to the jail.

"It prohibits them from any outside contact with individuals," said Captain Randy Hargis, the Chief of Security with the Warren County Justice Center.

One of the other security measures that they use at the Warren County Justice Center is the black box handcuff system, which is used for high risk inmates and limits their mobility. However, even the most high risk and potentially dangerous inmates can't be shackled or handcuffed during a trial.

"If a person's on trial for a violent offense and all of a sudden the jury sees them come in shackled, there's a presumption that I already think they're a dangerous person," Wilson said.

In situations like that, Hargis wants to use security belts that would be hidden from the jury. If an incident does occur the belt acts as a taser.

"We can put the belt on that defendant and conceal it beneath their clothing, so that the jury does not know that security measure is in place," Hargis said.

Hargis also said a high-profile trial where the belt could have been used is the case involving William Meece. Meece was accused of murdering a veterinarian and his family. During the trial, Meece and the jury had to go to the scene of the crime in Adair County.

"That was a situation where Mr. Meece was out in the open, but still could not be physically restrained in the presence of the jury," Hargis said.

According to Hargis, in situations like Meece's the stun belt may have served as a deterrent for trouble.

"There's a constant reminder to this defendant whether he be a violent offender or not violent offender that within a moment's notice he can be put into some type of restraint by that taser," Wilson said.

As for Corder's question: What if? The stun belt would help answer it.

"I know if they were to have that belt, that security there is always a relief," Corder said.

The reason why Warren County doesn't already have this extra security measure is because the belts themselves are a $1,000 each, and it costs $500 per officer for training.

Hargis said ideally he'd like to have 10 to 15 deputies trained. That's a total of $5,000 to $7,500. Although, with the county's budget for the next fiscal year still in question, Hargis said he's not sure if he'll be able to purchase the stun belts. He also said that's a battle he's willing to fight because it will be beneficial to the safety of those in the courtroom.

For more information on the stun belts you can log onto "http://www.nova-usa.com/", or you can click here to view a stun belt demo.


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