- Associated Press - Friday, August 8, 2014

GREENVILLE, Miss. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker is renewing his call to replace the four-story federal courthouse in downtown Greenville with a more secure building.

“We’ve been concerned for some time about the modernized protection for the federal court personnel, including judges,” Wicker, R-Miss., told the Delta Democrat-Times (https://bit.ly/V50PZH )

The building opened in 1958. It also holds the city’s main post office, puts judges, prisoners and families of prisoners in peril, Wicker said.

“There’s no place to separate female and male prisoners,” Wicker said. “They’re all in one waiting room.”

New U.S. District Judge Debra Brown, the first female African-American federal judge in Mississippi, supports a new building.

“Everybody’s emotions are high during court. Anything can happen. Although we’re always cognizant of the security we have here, there are just areas that need improvement. There’s only one way to transport prisoners, judges and court personnel into the courtroom.

“If I see prisoners being transported while I’m en route to the courtroom, I have to walk the other way. Once, I had to go sit in my car until I was cleared to come back inside,” Brown said.

Officials said it’s all about security

“The facility as a whole can be made better,” said Eric Patterson, the head of the U.S. Protective Service within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “The plan is to see how we can work with the federal marshal to enhance the security.”

Patterson said his department, which oversees more than 9,000 federal facilities, in 2013 surveyed the building. Now, he said, it’s time to take a more comprehensive look.

“Part of the challenge with having a federal courthouse and post office in the same building is how do you keep the public separate from the courthouse,” he said.

Wicker said the next step is to bring a team from the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Protective Service to take a more in-depth look.

“Everyone here is entitled to a federal court completely secure for everybody,” he said.


Information from: Delta Democrat-Times, https://www.ddtonline.com

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