City hall as it stands today would be retrofitted as a dedicated municipal courtroom to include offices for the Department of Court Services and probation services. The Conyers Police Department headquarters adjacent to the building would be retrofitted to accommodate more space for the needs of the officers. Divisions of the CPD including the following would remain at the current location: Court Services, Criminal Investigations Division, Conyers Security Alert, CPD Administrative Staff and the 9-1-1 Center.
The courtroom is not laid out in a manner that is conducive to screening court attendees without blocking entry and exit ways. Those attending court are often backed up and detained in a narrow hallway as they wait to be screened through the metal detector. Court attendees are in need of additional lockers to store their cell phones, as they are not allowed in court. Court attendees have been known to stow their valuables in shrubs outside of the Police Department because they were not aware they couldn’t have their phone in court and were dropped off and couldn’t leave it in a locked vehicle.
Drug screens are administered in the public restroom. This creates security issues for the probation officer as they have to enter into the confined space with the person providing the sample. This also creates an opportunity for others to provide various means to alter a drug screens.
Probation officers are in need of more privacy to confer (this is actually a probation requirement. Probation matters, with the exception of revocations held in open court, are held to the highest standard of confidentiality) with probationers and have no dedicated room to do so at present. Interview rooms are also needed for clients and attorneys to confer. At the present time, they must go out and talk in the hallway (the one used as the entry/exit for court).
There is no dedicated space for the judge and/or solicitor to review or discuss court issues. Also, holding cells are needed to separate those sentenced and arrested on court days. The courtroom has two exits providing a means to escape, making it difficult to maintain contact with those arrested and perform bailiff duties at the same time. Currently, those arrested must sit in a section of the courtroom in handcuffs until they are transported to the jail. Finally, additional security is needed for the presiding judge in court, as well as those in the courtroom.
The amount of people congregated in the lobby by the elevator creates a safety issue. Some of the people waiting in the lobby are not screened because they never enter court through the primary designated entryway. However, people exiting through the back or side door will allow those attendees to enter.
There is also an open stairwell where a person can hide. The stairwell is checked prior to court, but if an attendee uses this as an exit they could permit entry to someone else without the court’s knowledge.
The city’s municipal court holds, on average, two court dates a week. Currently, court is held in the City Council Chambers on the second floor of the Police Department, which was never designed with the intention of it serving as a courtroom. The room has other uses including employee meetings and trainings, employee functions and luncheons, public meetings, and city council meetings. The room does not currently meet federal regulations or security guidelines, however it does meet State Certification and CALEA requirements.
On days when court is held, parking at city hall is at a premium. By relocating other city services to another location, the parking lot would be restriped to accommodate parking for Conyers Police and court employees and those arriving for court-related appearances and services.
The lobby area near the elevators becomes very congested during court. Attendees wait in line to pay fines or probation fees, as well as others waiting to be called back to complete probation intake. There is not sufficient room at times to accommodate the amount of people in the lobby area.