Audit: Haywood County Courthouse Needs Better Security


It’s too easy to get inside certain parts of the Haywood County Courthouse, according to an audit Tennessee Comptrollers released this week.

While the audit itself doesn’t explicitly say so, this could pose security concerns.

“Our examination disclosed that county officials did not adequately control access to the courthouse offices. One key will open multiple doors in the courthouse: at least one exterior door to the courthouse, a conference room, and the Offices of the Trustee, County Mayor, and Budget Director,” Comptrollers wrote.

“Individuals who are not office employees could potentially enter one of the offices unsupervised. Sound business practices dictate that unsupervised access to offices weakens internal controls over assets. This deficiency is the result of management’s decision, management’s failure to correct the finding noted in the prior-year audit report, and management’s failure to implement their corrective action plan.”

Comptrollers recommended county officials control access to the courthouse offices.

Former County Mayor Franklin Smith told Comptrollers he concurred with the finding.

According to The National Center for State Courts’ website, “because courthouses must be accessible and in centralized locations, they are vulnerable to acts of random violence.”

“Courts must have proper security procedures, technology, personnel, and architectural features, to not only protect the safety of the people and property within and around the courts, but also the integrity of the judicial process,” the website said.

“While there is no one solution to issues concerning court security, proper planning must involve collaboration with law enforcement offices, emergency agencies, and governing bodies. Courts must also have emergency management plans in place.”

The website, meanwhile, said courthouse security is crucial.

Whether the seats in the courthouse are occupied by gang members or a victim’s family members, the courtroom is a tinderbox ready to be set alight when the judge or jury reaches a verdict,” the website reported.

The Haywood County Courthouse is in Brownsville.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Haywood County Courthouse” by Thomas R Machnitzki CC3.0.










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