Pulaski County Sheriff Discusses Courthouse Security Staffing Needs with County Commissioners

After years of discussions, the Pulaski County Commissioners appear to be ready to act on courthouse security. Commissioner Jerry Locke raised the issue with Sheriff Jeff Richwine, during Tuesday’s meeting. “The situation with the courthouse, I’m afraid it might drag on, drag on, drag on, to see what’s going to be done,” Locke explained. “Would it be possible, Jeff, you or some of your people to come up with how many personnel to make our courthouse secure?”

Richwine said a security checkpoint would need at least three full-time people, plus another three at the Justice Center, if a checkpoint were to be implemented there, too. He added that when he looked into the cost of metal detectors, they were about $6,000 a piece, and that was three years ago. Circuit Court Judge Mary Welker noted that the Department of Correction offers grants for security equipment, but the county probably missed this year’s opportunity.

The issue of courthouse security has come up several times in recent years, but until now, county officials have been hesitant to move forward, due to the possibility that some sort of renovation project or move of county offices may be coming. Finding money to pay for the additional staff has also been a concern. The idea of seeing whether an outside security company might be cheaper was brought up once again Tuesday.

Judge Welker said that in the meantime, she’s been making whatever security improvements she could, including more security cameras and facilities tours with officers. “And one of the things that we have in our budget that we’ve talked with sheriff and [Superior Court Judge Crystal] Kocher and DeGroot’s about is to reduce walking prisoners over, putting in video,” Welker added. “And we’re still working on that and planning to have that done by the end of the year.”

But she said there are some hearings and trials for which inmates are required to be physically present.