Judge asks Fannin Co.commissioners to improve courthouse security

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FANNIN COUNTY, TX - After a recent security scare at the Fannin County Courthouse, 336th District Judge Laurie Blake wants commissioners to improve security in the courthouse during this budget session.

An audio recording captured a recent security incident at the Fannin County Courthouse. Judge Laurie Blake is heard talking to a 17-year-old defendant--it's all being captured on the mic in her courtroom.

Once the teenager is dismissed and placed in a holding cell in another room, that same mic captures a violent outburst.

The courtroom had to be locked down after the teenager became violent, loudly yelled obscenities, threatened to kill the bailiff, and continued his outburst as he was escorted down the only stairwell--the same stairs the general public uses.

Judge blake says this isn't the first scare they've had in Fannin County. She tells us an inmate once climbed over the holding cell, as it is not in compliance with the Jail Standards Commission.

Monday, Judge blake presented the recording of the incident to County commissioners, and requested they make security changes in the courthouse during this budget session.

She says while they can only do so much to rework a courthouse that was built in 1888, they can make sure visitors aren't bringing weapons into a courtroom, where emotions run high.

"We at least need to get down to one entrance where there is a safe screening device so that people coming in here do not have weapons," said Judge Blake.

There are four unsecured entrances to the courthouse. Fannin County Judge Spanky Carter says that may not change, "The commissioners court doesn't feel that they want to shut down the courthouse, they feel that this courthouse belongs to the people," he told News 12.

But Judge Carter says the court does take safety very seriously, and they will look into getting a screening device.

"We want all of our citizens to be safe and we want all of our employees to be safe. And we always take that into consideration, and will continue to do that," said Judge Carter.

Judge Blake says while new security measures may be costly, the County simply can't afford to do nothing.

While the incident was a concern for all involved, Judge Carter tells us they have never had a true security breach in the courthouse.

Commissioners will make a decision on the proposed security changes this August.

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