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Local officials tighten up security at Johnson County Courthouse

Local Officials Tighten Up Security At Johnson County Courthouse Upgrades made to security system at…

MOUNTAIN CITY, Tenn. – Officers with the P.O.S.T Commission called the Johnson County Courthouse the worst in the state for security. But now local officials are making upgrades to change it. News 5’s Kristi O’Connor found out what you can expect the next time you walk through the courthouse doors. It has been at least 12 years since the Johnson County Courthouse has been upgraded for security reasons.
In just three days that the new equipment has been used, Sheriff Mike Reece says it already caught one person trying to carry a knife into the building.

“Anything can happen, it’s the times we’re living in,” Sheriff Reece said.

Reece is tightening up security at the county courthouse after state law enforcement officials deemed it extremely unsecured.

“We’re trying to protect not only the people in the courthouse that works there, but the public too,” Reece said. Before there were three different doors to the courthouse people could use, but now there is only one way in and one way out. Employees and the public must use the eastside entrance. The other two doors will be Emergency Exits only. Upon entrance, there will be at least one bailiff standing guard and a brand new metal detector.
Sheriff Reece says the metal detector will not go off for jewelry, pacemakers or artificial implants, but it will detect weapons and cell phones, even if the weapon is inside the person’s body.

If a person has a weapon or cell phone, the metal detector will turn red. In which case, a bailiff may use a metal detector wand. Clerk and Master Sherrie Fenner says there are exceptions to the cell phone rule.

“You can come through that door with a cell phone and do your business in any of these offices, except the courtroom,” Fenner explained. The upgrade also includes changes for employees. The county switched to a computerized key fob system. The system allows only certain employees in certain offices. It records who enters which door and at what time.

Sheriff Reece says it eliminates the issue of former employees still having access to county offices.

“If someone leaves the key fob and we don’t recover it, we can discontinue that through the computer system and they can’t be used,” Reece said.

The $30,000 upgrade comes at no cost to the taxpayers. Sheriff Reece says they paid for the new equipment with money accumulated by court fines.

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