County must look at paying for security

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Anyone can walk through almost any door at the Adams County Courthouse and walk into any office.

It’s nice to have that freedom in a taxpayer-supported building, but it leaves everyone who works there or visits the building at a terrible risk.

The courthouse is a place that can inspire great tension &045; whether it’s someone angry about the outcome of a trial or the cost of a car tag.

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Adams County Sheriff Ronny Brown has a good proposal, developed from his ideas and his predecessor’s, to address the lack of security throughout the building. The proposal comes after years of seeing close calls that could have turned into something even more dangerous.

But the proposal, as it stands now, comes with a $250,000 price tag &045; and that doesn’t include some equipment the county could likely get for free from federal marshals willing to offer a free metal detector and other items.

Adams County supervisors will now have to decide how &045; or whether &045; to foot the bill.

It’s an easy decision to want better security, but tougher to find a way to fund it.

Still, supervisors have to ask themselves what better security is worth &045; and what it could cost down the line if something tragic happens.

Several years ago the county put off paying for new locks on cell doors at the Adams County Jail. Sure enough, an inmate was raped, and the county was slapped with a lawsuit.

We don’t need to get into that situation now. With so many courthouses across the country re-evaluating security risks, it’s even possible the federal government could impose new rules on courthouses &045; and we will have to pay for better security anyway.

If all of the money isn’t available now, the county needs to look at all possible grant opportunities and consider ways to safely trim costs from the proposal or look at ways to trim other areas to find more money for security.

Sheriff Ronny Brown said he will secure the courthouse one way or another, and he needs the support of supervisors to get his plans in place.

This is a time to be proactive &045; and to protect the lives of those who work and visit the courthouse every day.