Indiana County Courthouse Increases Security with Homeland Security Grant

Oct. 4--Sometime in the near future, people coming to the Howard County courthouse will have their bags and packages scanned and will be required to walk through a metal detector.

The county learned in August that it was eligible for up to a $50,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. The catch was that the funds had to be spent by Oct. 31.

Howard County Circuit Court Judge Lynn Murray said Tuesday that the county has been awarded a grant.

The county will receive $29,295 to purchase an X-ray machine, tables and metal detector to increase security at the courthouse.

"We will have the purchase completed by the end of the month and the equipment will be installed shortly thereafter," Murray said.

The equipment will be placed at the east doorway into the courthouse, which is the public entrance.

Commissioner Brad Bagwell said the county will purchase the equipment and then be reimbursed by the state.

Murray said a remaining concern is how to provide the necessary manpower to monitor the equipment.

Bagwell said at this point in time the county has to determine the staffing.

We could use reserve deputies or Emergency Management Agency people," Bagwell said. "It is also possible that we contract with a private security company to provide two people."

If the county decides to staff the security checkpoints, Bagwell said it will require three or four employees because of vacation time.

"We want the equipment used during high-profile trials," Murray said. "It is mainly a deterrent. People coming into the courthouse will be screened for weapons."

Installing the metal detector and X-ray machine has been considered by county officials for some time, according to Bagwell.

"The opportunity presented itself that we could get the equipment at no cost to the county," he said. "This is something we needed to do."

The county also received approval of $17,000 in Homeland Security funds for the purchase of computers for the Howard County Emergency Management Agency, according to director Larry Smith.

Smith said a decision on how the funds will be used will be determined in the future.

Copyright (c) 2006, Kokomo Tribune, Ind. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.

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