Knox County deputies remain vigilant after Middle Tennessee courthouse shooting

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The shooting of two deputies in the Coffee County Courthouse by an inmate has raised questions about courthouse security throughout the state.

“When tragedy happens, many times you can learn from those situations and we train on those,” Chief Lee Tramel, with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, said. “There’s different layers of security for each courtroom that we have.”

Chief Tramel oversees security in Knoxville’s City-County Building. He said deputies are constantly training and preparing for potential threats. Deputies are stationed both outside and inside the courthouse, as well as in the individual courtrooms. Multiple armed security officers are present in each courtroom.

Previous story: Inmate dies, 2 officers injured at Middle Tennessee courthouse

“You don’t rest on excellence,” he said. “You’re always training and trying to think, and with Coffee County, what can we learn from this?”

Though Knox County has not had a shooting incident in decades, Tramel said it could happen here, giving deputies a reason to stay vigilant.

“Complacency in our line of work is deadly,” he said. “Complacency will get you killed.”

People visiting the courthouse said the presence of law enforcement and metal detectors gives them peace of mind.

“I feel as safe in here as I would everywhere,” Robert Powers said.

That does not mean they are not cautious.

“For the most part I feel safe,” Yvon Jones said. “You’ll always have to be on your toes and pay attention to those around you. I’m used to being around all times in day at night, so I’m pretty used to looking at what’s going on. But even if it appears to be safe, it may not always be.”

“I hope the guys are going through some extra training and everything,” Tray Hasty said. “When you hear an event happen, look out for it and make sure it doesn’t happen here.”

Members of law enforcement agree that there are always lessons to be learned to better prepare for the unexpected.

“When the smoke clears from this incident and the report come out about what actually happened, we’ll learn from those tragedies,” Chief Tramel said.

This year alone, Knox County courts have heard more than 350,000 cases and keeping people safe is the top priority of law enforcement.

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