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Taking All the Necessary Precautions

NCJ Number
Pentacle Volume: 7 Issue: 2 Dated: (July 1987) Pages: 3-6
J A McDonald
Date Published
4 pages
This introductory article discusses security measures followed by the U.S. Marshals Service at sensitive trials.
Sensitive or high-threat trials involve drug cartel, organized crime, paramilitary, or terrorist group members and draw large media attention because of the organizations and crimes involved. As Federal prosecutors target more of these groups, the number of high-threat trials grows, with 77 in 1982; 207 in 1986; and 190 in the first three-quarters of 1987. U.S. Marshals house and transport defendants, ensure that defendants are not freed by force, and protect the judicial family. Technology such as closed-circuit television monitors and electronic alarm systems help protect judges, their families, and staffs. Court Security Officers (CSO's), through a competitive program established in 1983, are hired to perform building perimeter security functions, screen incoming persons, and manage extra security details. The Threat Analysis Group (TAG) provides immediate assessment of the validity of threats against U.S. Marshals Service protectees or operations. Sequestered juries which increased from 1986 to 1987, are protected by the U.S. Marshals Service from physical harm and outside tampering. Sensitive trials require extra personnel and vehicles, sophisticated communications and weapons, and incur additional overtime and travel costs. Security for the trial of a Puerto Rican terrorist group accused of attacks on a U.S. Navy bus in Puerto Rico in 1979 and on U.S. military aircraft at Muniz Air Base in Puerto Rico in 1981 will probably exceed $2 million.