Court house security – Defendant’s non-verbal behaviors

Non-verbal behaviors of defendants involve general body motions, which in the context of the court proceedings, may provide important clues on security aspects, at times being of greater help than verbal messages. Ability to detect such non-verbal behaviors and changes in such behavior that take place during subsequent court briefings could help security personnel avert disruptions. Such would be the case when security personnel can demarcate the unusual behaviors that require action from those that do not require any action (Jones, 2003).

Various non-verbal behaviors of the defendants may provide clues to the court security of potential disruptions. For instance, constant gestures of the defendants towards a particular observer in the courtroom could signify that defendant is relaying information that may help plan a court attack to such observer (Jones, 2003). However, to effect appropriate response following such a behavior, the court personnel must be aware of what such gestures imply (Jones, 2003). A second example of nonverbal behaviors within the courtroom that indicates a possible disruption would be delay tactics employed by either the witness or observers in the courtroom.  For instance, when a member of the observer group moves out and into the courthouse frequently, such may be aimed to disrupt the court personnel to allow for attacks and escape of a prisoner.

Ways to prevent disruption in the courthouse on the basis of non-verbal behaviors include investing in a behavior monitoring program. Through such programs, unusual behavior in various participants in the court proceedings may be discerned early enough thus helping institute actions that prevent disruptions (Jones, 2003). When such programs are coupled to surveillance technology, they could help link any unusual behaviors with unusual movements in the courtroom or its surroundings, thus helping the security personnel respond to potential threats in a timely manner. Court security should also be aware of any associates, friends or family of the defendants, individuals with whom the defendant may try to communicate with non-verbally, so as to monitor their reaction closely during the court proceedings (Jones, 2003). Thus, non-verbal behaviors provide useful information that the court security can use to avert cases of disruption and attacks within the court and its environs.


Jones, T. L. (2003). Court security: A guide for post 9-11 environments. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publishing, Ltd.

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