The Pulaski County government plans to take some substantive steps to improve security inside the courthouse.
During a joint session of the Pulaski County Council and Commissioners, County Clerk Christi Hoffa revisited an issue that looks to improve communication and enhance the safety of the employees.
She says her employees have expressed their concerns to her.
“That addition, remodel, whatever has been put on hold,” says Hoffa. “But we really feel like here needs to be a Plan B.”
The Clerk’s office in particular has a single panic button that is able to contact the Pulaski County Sheriff’s office in the case of an emergency.
The problem, according to Hoffa, is that they courthouse employees often deal with belligerent taxpayers or individuals who have recently been to court. This can create tense emotional situations that Hoffa says is putting the safety of the Clerk’s office employees at risk.
Pulaski County has the goal of upgrading the courthouse to bring themselves into compliance with state statute for security, but until additional thinking can be done about the issue, or until newly elected officials are seated in January, the project is at a standstill.
Still, Hoffa has requested something be done about the lack of security inside the courthouse. Pulaski County does not have guards or metal detectors. Sheriff Jeff Richwine has suggested moving the circuit court to the justice center to prevent exposure to prisoners.
He says there are a few thoughts off the top of his head.
“To get the building secure, where it sits now, you could go to a single point of entry, put a body scanner in there that people walk through,” says Richwine. “It’s probably going to take two employees. I don’t know that we could afford to sit two deputies there, but you could at least do two jailers.”
Judge Michael Shurn stepped in to offer some guidance on the issue. He says a committee has been working since 2013 on the security issue. Shurn indicated that if the committee could be revived, it could act as a working group to make recommendations in the coming months and years.
The County Council on Monday night agreed to supply a representative to the committee. They will meet once per month with the goal of developing a security plan for implementation in the future.