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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Officials address security concerns

Sunday, August 10, 2008

(Photo)
Two recent incidents at the Clay County Courthouse have caused concern for area officials. [Order this photo]
Two recent events at the Clay County Courthouse have officials concerned about security.

On Aug. 4, a gentleman entered the Clay Superior Court Office apparently asking for information regarding a relative incarcerated at the Clay County Justice Center.

"He had been to many offices, including the Prosecutor's Office and the Justice Center, prior to coming to our office," Superior Court Bailiff Lori Furrer told The Brazil Times. "He was already agitated and when I told him he would have to go to the Prosecutor's Office for the information he was seeking, he became more agitated."

(Photo)
Signs like this appear on the entrance doors to the Clay County Courthouse. [Order this photo]
Furrer said she attempted to end the conversation, but the individual refused to leave and was motioning to a backpack he was wearing.

"There were no threats made but things were getting a little out of our control so I pressed the panic button we have in the office," Furrer said.

The panic button alerts officials at the Clay County Justice Center of potential danger and Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton said they respond as quick as they can.

"It all depends if we have been dispatched elsewhere prior to the button being pushed," Heaton said. "We were able to catch the individual down the road from the courthouse and gave him a disorderly conduct warning because he was just loud and obnoxious."

He added that because no formal charges were filed, the individual's name is withheld in accordance with privacy rights.

"That is part of why the situation was different because he never identified himself," Furrer said. "Plus with the events that happened a couple of days before, I was a little more inclined to push the panic button."

On Aug. 1, David Lee Livingston, Indianapolis, was arrested for making death threats toward a county judge, an attorney and a resident.

A tip was called in about 8:30 a.m. that morning, alerting the Clay County Sheriff's Department of the threats and causing security to be tightened at the courthouse and employees were told to be on a heightened awareness.

According to the charging information, Livingston allegedly told Kimberly Snowden he planned to kill Dee Mae Schutter for adopting his children, Circuit Court Judge Joseph Trout for issuing the adoption order and Attorney Eric Somheil for representing Schutter.

Livingston appeared via video conferencing Aug. 4, in Clay Superior Court, on three class D felony charges of intimidation. Geoffrey Creason was appointed as his legal counsel, a jury trial was scheduled for Dec. 8 and he remains incarcerated at the Justice Center on a $21,000 bond, with no 10 percent acceptable. A no contact order was also issued by the court.

Superior Court Judge Blaine Akers attributes the main problem in having courthouse security is a lack of manpower.

"There just aren't enough people available to have adequate security," Akers said, adding he is currently looking for a grant position in order to allow the metal detectors to also be used again. "The problem with a grant is that when the grant money runs out, the county is stuck with the bill and we would have to determine the value of security with other major needs like the upkeep of county roads."

Heaton reiterated Akers sentiment about the lack of manpower.

"We aren't able to have a deputy on hand during jury trials because we don't have enough people," he said. "There are a lot of offices at the courthouse and each have their own issues with aggravated individuals, especially regarding property taxes right now. But there are cameras on in the building and each office has its own panic button to use if needed."

He added many courthouses in the state do have some sort of security measures in place, but they have been able to work around the lack of manpower in other ways.

"During the arraignment process, the judge can decide if they want a prisoner to appear in person or in video conferencing," Heaton said. "If they appear via video, it keeps us from having to use a deputy to escort the prisoner across the street which also reduces the risk of escape."

Akers said he likes the option of video conferencing for a number of reasons.

"Video conferencing acts as a form of security because some people can get emotional, especially if it is their first time in a courtroom," he said. "The handling of the prisoner is alleviated and it is more timely in situations where we have many arraignments to process through."

He also said his staff has gone through training to handle situations like the one they went through recently with a level head.

"Most of my staff has been trained to diffuse emotional situations without force," Akers said. "We've used the panic button a couple of times in the past and we don't use it if it doesn't merit an emergency. This time the situation got to a point where Lori needed help."


Comments
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COME ON, JUST HAD TO GET THAT IN THERE DIDN'T YA. STAY ON TOPIC. I THINK THAT GUARDS IN THE COUTHOUSE WOULD BE A GOOD THING, AS LONG AS THEY ARE QUALIFIED. I HAVE SEEN SOME GUARDS IN PLACES SIMILAR TO THIS, THAT I DO NOT BELIEVE COULD RUN UP THE STAIRS TO AN EMERGENCY. IN THIS DAY AND AGE, SECURITY IS A MUST. I WISH WE LIVED IN A WORLD THAT DID NOT NEED TO LOOK OVER IT'S SHOULDERS ALL THE TIME, BUT UNFORTUNATLEY THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. METAL DETECTORS DO NOT WORK IF SOMEONE IS NOT THERE TO MAN THEM, SO LETS START WITH THE GUARDS, THEN WORRY ABOUT THE PERKS.

-- Posted by SIKOFIT on Sun, Aug 10, 2008, at 10:42 PM

Seems to me Clay County would concentrate more on securing its people (residents and employees) in the courthouse rather than, for instance, patrolling and make sure drivers are wearing their seatbelts. I know there are laws for not wearing seatbelts, but I believe there's a bigger law to prevent unwanted acts such as the one described here. Fortunately in this case, no one was hurt.

I agree, lets hire some guards. Granted, this may raise taxes for the county or state, but if I still lived in the area, I'd pay to save the people from harm's way.

-- Posted by andypflueger on Mon, Aug 11, 2008, at 5:07 AM

I think she was on topic. Security has to be in place for everybody. If there is a "daycare" there, then you have to make the plans accordingly

-- Posted by sassypants on Mon, Aug 11, 2008, at 1:08 PM

I UNDERSTAND THAT SECURITY NEEDS TO BE IN PLACE FOR EVERYONE, I WAS JUST MAKING THE POINT THAT SAYING, "AND THEY TAKE THIER KIDS TO WORK" DID NOT HAVE TO GO IN THERE. BUT, IF THEY DO, OH WELL. I HOPE THAT THE COUNSIL WILL SEE THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS ISSUE. I WOULD HATE FOR IT NOT TO GO THROUGH, AND SOMETHING HAPPEN, BECAUSE OF A BUDGET CUT OR SOMETHING SIMILAR.

-- Posted by SIKOFIT on Tue, Aug 12, 2008, at 1:03 AM

Are people concerned about security? Then maybe people should get behind this school petition and start with that. WE NEED SECURITY EVERYWHERE!!!!

-- Posted by sassypants on Tue, Aug 12, 2008, at 7:34 AM


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