The New Castle County Courthouse Lobby Gets Long-Awaited Facelift
The New Castle County Courthouse is finally ready for its makeover. The long-awaited renovations to the front lobby of the courthouse began on May 27, 2014 and should be completed in August 2014. These renovations will not only repair the damages caused by the exchange of gunfire that occurred on February 11, 2013, but will also enhance traffic flow into and out of the courthouse and introduce new safety features.
Much thought was given as to how the lobby should be reconfigured to permit ease of ingress and egress while maintaining security. After consulting with the U.S. Marshals' office and the Department of Homeland Security, former Chief Justice Myron T. Steele and the Presiding Judges of the affected courts created a strategic security action plan that identified areas of need. The renovations to the lobby were ranked as a top priority but work has been delayed due to the difficulty associated with acquiring custom made bullet proof material specifically manufactured for the lobby's configuration.
The New Castle County Courthouse lobby will now have a dedicated entrance and exit doors physically separated from one another by a glass partition that will cut through the lobby. The side door that leads to the parking garage will be the sole means of egress. Employees, litigants, and visitors will continue to enter through the front doors, but a short divide will clearly demarcate the employee and jury services security screening lines from those used by all other visitors. Finally, an observation station from which Capitol Police will have the ability to survey the crowd will be built in the lobby.
Other measures called for under the Judicial Branch's strategic security action plan have been instituted or are in process. The number of Capitol Police assigned to the judiciary has been substantially increased; additional cameras and intrusion devices have been installed at courthouses; new x-ray machines have been added in the Justice of the Peace Court; security personnel have received additional training; and office spaces open to the public have been fitted with enhanced safety equipment (ballistic and Kevlar materials). A statewide security committee has been formed to provide uniform security protections to all judicial branch employees. New policies have been adopted dealing with threats to judicial officers and staff as well as emergency closures and notification of closures.