Court Security Professional of the Year
2016 Court Security Professional of the Year
Sergeant Russell Stowers
Tazewell County, Virginia
The Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office hired Sergeant Stowers in 1996, starting his career as a jailor. He held several positions with the sheriff’s office including jailor, bailiff, and a patrol officer.
Sergeant Stowers is currently the courthouse security supervisor for and has held this position for the past 4 years. He has trained and guided the security staff at the Tazewell County Courthouse into a professional group of deputies that understand and appreciate the vital role they play in creating a safe and secure environment for the judicial process.
The current courthouse complex was built around the existing and ancient Tazewell County Courthouse. This new courthouse complex presented many challenges for security. Sergeant Stowers was active in the development of the procedures in the new courthouse structure.
Sergeant Stowers constantly seeks ways to improve and enhance the courthouse security team. In February of 2013, he reached out to the U.S. Marshal Service to do an assessment on the security of the Tazewell County Court House. During this assessment, the U.S. Marshal Service reviewed the established procedures of the courthouse security staff, as well as the building and existing security features. The assessment found the security of the courthouse to be exceptional. There were no recommendations for improvement on any of the processes or procedures of the security at the courthouse. They found the policy and procedures implemented by Sergeant Stowers to be quite impressive from their standpoint.
Like most courthouses, there are many offices throughout the complex, which of course means many employees as well. To keep all employees aware of emergency procedures, Sergeant Stowers has created a manual that he has aptly named, “What to do if....” for all court house offices and their staff to review.
In this manual, Sergeant Stowers has provided instructions for all employees, sworn and not sworn, on what steps and procedures to take in various emergency situations. These situations include fire alarms, bomb threats, active shooter situations, power outages, etc. These instructions explain to the courthouse employees what to do if in these events in a thorough and precise manner.
Sergeant Stowers has also secured funding that has allowed the purchase of Tasers for the courthouse security staff. The addition of the Tasers gives the staff a less lethal option for controlling individuals who are combative without resorting to pepper spray or taking on the risk of injury by engaging in a physical fight.
Sergeant Stowers and the leadership he provides have increased the safety and security of the courthouse and its employees. He has established himself as a solid member of a team of professional employees that under almost any circumstance will ensure the judicial process continues.
2012 Sheriff John Zaruba - DuPage County, IL
2013 Deputy 1st Class William Oakley - Wicomico County, MD
2014 Deputy John Demase - Palm Beach County, FL
2015 Sergeant Joe Thompsen - Wicomico County, Maryland