Courthouse Security A Year After the Smith County Shooting - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/24/06-Tyler

Courthouse Security A Year After the Smith County Shooting

The Smith County Courthouse was not built for a rampage like we had last year according to judge Cynthia Kent and she still feels today.

"I know Sheriff Smith and his deputies work very, very hard and they do wonderful job under very difficult circumstances," says Judge Kent. "But it really almost doesn't matter what changes they make, because our facility is so poorly designed for current modern day problems. "

Judge Kent believes Smith County needs a new courthouse. She says it does not address the safety of the jurors, witnesses and the public.

"There are kinds of facilities that are being built around the country that with the mind of making sure that inmates are in secure hallways instead of walking through the halls in chains in front of witnesses and jurors," says Judge Kent.

That's also a concern for Judge Jack Skeen. However, he says the commissioners court has given the Sheriff's Department the resources they need to enhance security.

"All of these individuals should feel more secure because of the improvements which have been made," says Judge Skeen. "I personally feel in the courthouse we have here that there are no guarantees and we have all learned that I feel like we have as secure a facility as we can."

The most noticeable change is the east side doorway. It was once a way into the Smith County courthouse. Since the shooting last year, it's been closed off.

"We've improved the technology." says Sheriff J.B. Smith. "We've improved the cameras, added quite a bit on the inside. I would like for the public to understand, though, the courthouse security was never breached."

Sheriff J.B. Smith says it's almost impossible to prevent a random crime like that on a public street. But he has made many security changes, many he can't divulge for your safety. That's especially important to him since two of his deputies were shot trying to stop David Arroyo Senior.

Dana Dixon Reporting

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