May 23, 2020
By: Dwayne Page
The DeKalb County Courts and Sheriff’s Department made history last year by launching a new video arraignment system. The first county in the seven county 13th judicial district to do so. It was part of an effort to beef up courtroom security. The system was funded by a grant through the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts.
In an effort to further enhance courtroom security, the county has been awarded another AOC grant. Under this grant the county will receive a total of $24,005 with no required local match to purchase four tasers for court officers, a camera and DVR system to be installed on the third floor of the courthouse to monitor the hallway in front of the courtrooms, panic buttons for the courtrooms as well as the Clerk and Master and Circuit Court Clerk’s offices, and bullet proofing for the judge’s bench in the lower courtroom.
“Sheriff Patrick Ray, Clerk and Master Debra Malone, Circuit Court Clerk Susan Martin and myself met with Chancellor Ron Thurman to discuss court security and minimum courtroom security standards. There was some money still available from the Administrative Office of the Courts Courtroom Security Grant Program. I applied for a grant and DeKalb County was awarded $24,005 with no match to purchase the items requested. This brings the total DeKalb County has received from three AOC grants to $75,300. These grants lessen the financial burden on the county of meeting required minimum courtroom security standards,” said County Mayor Tim Stribling.
The equipment will be funded as a reimbursement grant which means the county must first purchase the security equipment and then provide the AOC with a receipt and any other supporting documentation.
With the video arraignment system installed last year, a judge can have the formal reading of criminal charges to an incarcerated defendant without them being in the room. The inmates are beamed into the courtroom through video chat rather than physically being transported by deputies from the jail to the courthouse.