Most court security staff nationwide are armed with guns, but in Rhode Island, deputy sheriffs are barred from carrying guns inside state courthouses.
Katie Mulvaney Journal Staff Writer kmulvane
PROVIDENCE, R.I. After two Superior Court appearances were quickly followed by shootings, discussions are afoot in the state judiciary about changing the policy that bars deputy sheriffs from carrying guns. One of the episodes ended in a 22-year-old man’s murder at the Chad Brown housing complex minutes after he attended an arraignment. The other resulted in a brazen midday shooting in downtown Providence, just a block from the courthouse, leaving a Pawtucket man seriously injured and courthouse staff shaken. The incidents have sparked renewed discussion about the courts’ gun policy.
“It’s something we talk about with the judiciary. … We want to be proactive,” said state police Lt. Col. Kevin M. Barry, commanding officer of the Department of Public Safety, which oversees the Division of Sheriffs and the Capitol Police.
The issue is under review by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul A. Suttell and the other state court chiefs following a recent meeting with state police Col. Ann Assumpico, Barry, and the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association board, Supreme Court administrator J. Joseph Baxter Jr. said last week. Baxter emphasized that the violence did not occur inside a courthouse.
“At no instance has it been a breach of courthouse security,” he said. “Our main objective is to be able to maintain a safe venue for people to have their disputes heard. Obviously, the sheriffs and the Capitol Police are an integral part.”
“We’re of a similar mindset. It’s worthy of discussion,” Barry said of the police chiefs’ association, whose leadership declined comment. Sheriffs provide courtroom security, transport defendants to and from prison, and stand watch over juries. As things stand, deputies’ guns are secured in strategic locations in courthouses for retrieval if needed.
Barry noted concerns about suspects potentially seizing weapons from sheriffs, but said holster improvements now make it difficult for a weapon to be removed. Even so, Baxter wondered: “By allowing weapons in, would they get in the hands of the wrong person?”
The no-weapons policy has been in place since 2003, when then Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank J. William issued an executive order barring anyone, other than the Capitol Police, from carrying any weapons in courthouses. The order came after a security review of state courts by the U.S. Marshals Service. Before that, police could carry guns in the courts, and each high sheriff set a different weapons policy for that county s courthouse, according to Craig Berke, courts spokesman.
Capitol Police, who carry guns, screen all visitors before they enter courthouses. Staff and lawyers swipe in via a card key, but are not screened. Law enforcement officers sign in and check their guns. Since 2015, some deputy sheriffs have carried Tasers in addition to batons, pepper spray and handcuffs. The Tasers deliver a jolt of electricity that incapacitates by disrupting muscle control. Sixty-four sheriffs now carry Tasers, adding a layer of protection, Baxter said. Perimeter security remains a concern, Baxter said, as cuts in the ranks of sheriffs over the past few years have “decimated” the division’s ability to extend coverage beyond the courthouses. Currently, there are 179 deputy sheriffs, with 17 added last fall from the latest graduating training-academy class.
“It all goes back to manpower,” Baxter said. “They do a fine job. There aren’t enough of them.”
Due to the shortage, the judiciary has suspended school tours and occasionally has to close courtrooms, he said. In the meantime, state police plan to work with the Providence Police Department to boost security outside the courthouses, particularly during known gang trials or court appearances by gang associates, Barry said. “We’re going to put some more presence outside.”
An analyst with the National Center for State Courts said Rhode Island is unique among the states in that the judiciary has broad power to determine what weapons law enforcement personnel can carry in the courts. Most court security staff nationwide are armed with guns, as dictated by state laws. By the numbers
Sheriffs Division Budget 2017: $18.2 million
Sheriffs carrying Tasers: 64
Sources: Rhode Island state budget; Supreme Court administrator J. Joseph Baxter Jr.
On Twitter: @kmulvane
After nearly eight years as chief information security officer at Temple Health University Health System, Mitch Parker last September joined Indiana University Health. There, he told executives what he had told his team at Temple cyber threats are not an information technology department problem but a security problem. CISOs who are new to an organization need to stress the challenges that cyber threats represent and the adequacy, or lack thereof, of current security procedures, Parker said Sunday during a presentation at HIMSS17. That starts with educating other executives about breaches why they occur in the first place, the importance of discussing the technology behind breaches, but most importantly, the processes and failures that cause breaches.
CISOs should talk about the cyber environment using non-biased sources from firms such as Gartner, Ponemon and health insurers to report to colleagues on trends and emerging threats. And they need to insist that the organization join cyber threat sharing initiatives across their region and the industry.
Information security must be tied to two enterprise levels information systems and the organization strategy, Parker stressed. Metrics need to focus on augmenting and supporting the overall strategy, he adds. Parker suggested adopting the Lean methodology for improving security performance, as the program is all about process improvements and asking why less than optimal processes continue to exist. And employees responsible for information security, regardless of where in the organization, should be told that they need to understand Lean. Further, Lean should be used to design and maintain systems covering business customers, enterprise architecture, legal contracting, compliance, supply chain and enterprise risk scoring, making sure that various teams are on the same page with security.
This is grunt work, Parker warned: You can t buy your way into this.
If an organization decides to purchase cyber insurance, it must understand the need to complete a comprehensive risk assessment that includes pointed questions to determine the strength of the security program. Not only are insurers looking for that assessment, but so also is the HHS Office for Civil Rights, which enforces the HIPAA privacy, security and breach notification rules. Good information security, Parker said, has its hooks in clinical risk management, insurance, emergency preparedness, privacy, corporate compliance, supply chain, revenue cycle, information management and Joint Commission requirements, among others. To be successful with this laundry list, an organization must embrace change management in an overall enterprise model, Parker advised. If one player says, I do my own change management, it won t work. Either there s one change management program or there s none.
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For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/02/prweb14083337.htm