After recent incidents of panic buttons being set off at the Clay County Courthouse, officials are reviewing security.
On Wednesday, Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton, Clay County Council President Mike McCullough and Information Services Director Scott Hill toured the courthouse to speak with county office holders about their security concerns and the potential for upgrading the security camera system.
"We're in the very early phases of this project," Heaton said. "We are collecting information right now so that we can begin discussing it with the Clay County Commissioners and the rest of the council in June."
When a panic button is set currently off at the courthouse, a recorded message about the location and incident is immediately dispatched to the Clay County Sheriff's Department.
"When an alarm is set off, there is no video of what is happening," Heaton said. "If we had video, dispatchers would be able to provide active information to responding officers. The technology is available, so we might as well upgrade and use it to its full potential to ensure the safety of courthouse personnel."
Although an official estimate is not complete at this time, both Heaton and McCullough agree the project would be cost effective and economical.
"Budgets are tight all around," Heaton said. "There isn't enough funding for security staff at the courthouse, but this technology can be used instead to help tighten security."
According to Hill, 13 cameras are currently installed at the courthouse, some of which can have the angles adjusted to cover areas where potential problems could happen, such as counter areas where employees interact with the public.
During the preliminary tour, the group determined several cameras and a few more panic buttons would need to be purchased in ensure all the offices and courts were adequately monitored. A new video monitor would also need to be purchased to display the video in the 911-dispatchers office at the CCJC.
Currently, the security system can operate a total of 16 cameras, but the group is also considering an option to upgrade to the system to allow 32 security cameras.
Whether to purchase additional new cameras and upgrade the current computer technology necessary to transfer the video monitoring to the CCJC or trade the old system in and purchase a new one, is a decision the group is taking seriously.
"It's a crazy world out there and it's not getting any better," McCullough said while walking around the offices. "A problem could potentially happen anywhere, at any time in any one of these offices."
More information about the potential security upgrades and the cost to complete the project will be presented for discussion during June sessions of the Clay County Commissioners and Council meetings.