Committee hopes to address security issues at courthouseBy Emily Etheredge Published 3:11pm Friday, May 31, 2013
On Friday, Collum said he has researched pricing for some of the suggestions made by the Department of Homeland Security including securing the windows on the lower floor of the courthouse with metal bars, trimming bushes toward the back of the building and eliminating cigarette and garbage cans from the front door.
“Some of these things won’t cost a lot of money but they are good suggestions and things we need to look into doing,” Collum said. “Things like removing the cigarette and garbage cans from the front of the building takes away the possibility of someone walking by and dropping something inside of them.”
Another suggestion Collum is researching deals with securing the glass on the front portion of the courthouse.
“Back when the courthouse was built those big sheets of glass were beautiful,” Collum said. “However, when the courthouse was built there was no such thing as an active shooter. The glass could shard and cut people.”
Collum said he has researched ways to leave the current glass in place but put a shard proof coating for protection.
This is the third security survey conducted by the Department of Homeland Security after one was completed in 2002 and 2008 and another in 2013.
The courthouse was built in 1952 and Caton hopes the committee can work on the suggestions made by the Department of Homeland Security as well as listen to input from judges who use the courthouse.
Caton said he would also like to visit courthouses in Wetumpka and Columbiana to get ideas for ways to improve the Chilton County Courthouse in order to tailor the improvements to specifically benefit Chilton County.
“This is something that we want to sit down with the judges and get their views and their input as well as the department heads because these changes will involve them,” Caton said. “We want to get this done quickly though.”
Caton said the next step is for the committee to get a game plan together about the improvements as well as pricing and hopefully let the commission know the updates at the June 10 commission meeting.
Another improvement to the courthouse suggested by the Department of Homeland Security was to move the metal detector and X-ray machines from the third floor to the main entrance of the courthouse. Currently, everyone entering the courthouse is not required to go through a metal detector or X-ray machine, only those entering the third floor while court is in session.
Collum said simply moving the metal detector and X-ray machine would not cost any money due to the machines already being wired and would only require the use of a few men to move the machines.
According to Collum, the major expense in moving the machines would be locating personnel to man the machines during business hours at the courthouse.
“Paying someone to sit and man those machines will be the biggest cost,” Collum said. “But, when you put that metal detector and X-ray machine at the front door you have to have someone manning that. When the courthouse is open you need to have someone sitting there at those machines.”
Collum said the logistics of figuring out who to place near the machines still has to be discussed with Caton and Davis but hopes the group will organize the different ideas in the next couple of weeks.
“Right now we are simply doing research for how much everything is going to cost,” Collum said. “We want everyone to know we are working to make the courthouse as safe as possible for everyone in Chilton County and some of these suggestions don’t cost a lot of money but are things we should work on fixing.”