In light of the recent school shooting at a Connecticut elementary school and attacks in other public buildings across the nation, the Greene County Commissioners on Thursday morning agreed to take a close look at its courthouse building security policy and make changes, if necessary.
Commissioner's President Rick Graves suggested that a meeting be held with Courthouse Security Supervisor William "Butch" Brown and some of his staff, County Sheriff Terry Pierce, representatives from the court system and elected officials to find out if the building is safe enough, or if there are other things that can be done to make the building safer, including the idea of having someone who is armed on duty.
"What can we do to improve security, or security might be just fine. I don't know that. I just want be sure that we (the commissioners) have done all we can do to make it secure and make the elected officials and the courts feel safe while they are at work," Graves stated.
Commissioner Ed Michael said he felt like a review was a good idea.
"In this day and age, circumstances are going to happen. If we think it can't happen here, we didn't think we would have two deputies involved in a shooting (in July). It can happen anywhere," Michael said, "I think we are in a liability situation."
The idea of taking a closer look about the way security operates is also something that Commissioner Nathan Abrams supports.
"Public safety for our officeholders, even as far as our patrons, taxpayers are concerned. We need to be as safe as we can be," Abrams said.
Among the things being considered by the commissioners is increased security checks. Presently, officeholders, employees, delivery personnel and members of the media are exempt from the electronic walk-through or wand scans when they enter the courthouse.
Abrams was appointed as the commissioner's representative to set up discussions with the stakeholders and report back to the commissioners at the next meeting on Jan. 15 with his finding and possible recommendations.
In another change, the new commissioners dispensed with a long-standing tradition of requiring the sheriff or his representative to attend the twice-a-month commissioner's meeting and officially open the meetings.
Graves made a motion that was approved that no longer requests the presence of the sheriff at the meetings. The sheriff or any of the deputies could attend if they need to conduct business, but it will no longer be required.
"If it's convenient for them to attend, that's great, but if they have other things to do that's okay," Graves said.