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The Sevier County sheriff is crying foul over the dangers of an unsecured courthouse and is pushing for funding to fix the problems.
USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee

Accused and convicted criminals share the hallways in the Sevier County Courthouse with citizens every day.

It is a courthouse with 16 entrance doors, most open to the public, and no stationary metal detectors. On a visit last week by USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee, criminal cases were being heard in two courtrooms on two different floors without a single metal detector or security officer outside those courtrooms.

Many doors to various county offices — chock full of county employees — were accessible with a twist of the knob. A USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee reporter gained easy access and exit via unlocked side doors to all three levels of the sprawling courthouse complex, even rifling through computer hardware — the parts of which make ready weapons — left in a stairwell without drawing attention despite doing so in full view of security cameras.

The reporter did so twice over a two-hour period. The deputy whose job is to monitor security screens was busy in the courtroom, keeping a judge and the occupants safe.

Sheriff Ron “Hoss” Seals was not surprised at the USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee’s findings on the lack of security. He’s been sounding an alarm for more than two years.

“It worries me to death,” he said in an interview last week.

Judges worried about security

He’s…