Jan. 05 -- DINWIDDIE -- The county is beefing up security at its courthouse, and has spent almost half a million dollars to do so.
Since April 2013, the Board of Supervisors has poured a total of $441,943 into updating the building's security systems, which were originally installed in 1998.
"The old security was working to a certain extent, but it had just gotten outdated and it needed to be revamped," Sheriff D.T. "Duck" Adams said. "With the way things are happening in this country today, I am glad that Dinwiddie County is working to provide a safe environment for the people that work and come to the courthouse."
Adams recalled a previous incident where an unfavorable outcome for a person in a high-profile murder case led to a firebomb being thrown at the commonwealth's attorney window. The firebomb did not completely work, and only some curtain windows caught fire.
In December, about 2,329 people came into the courthouse.
"You've got over 2,000 people in the courthouse over a 30-day period. It is important for the security to be top-notch," Adams added. "Dinwiddie county didn't cut corners with this."
Using $126,943 in savings from two other projects plus $200,000 from the general fund, the county hired Elite Contracting Group in April 2013. At their Dec. 17 meeting, the county put another $115,000 into the project after "certain other areas of concern were identified by the security consultant," a county staff report read. The additional funds brought the project's tab up to $441,943.
County officials did not elaborate on the upgrades in order to protect the security of the building. County Administrator W. Kevin Massengill said that the changes have to do with monitoring services and security equipment.
"The courthouse system was put in place when it opened in 1998. Technology has changed tremendously over that time," Massengill said.
Efforts to update the courthouse systems began after a Circuit Court judge approached Adams when the sheriff took office in 2012. The judge expressed concerns he had over the building's security. Soon after, the county hired security consultants W.H. Gordon to evaluate the building's security needs.
"When I took office in 2012, it was brought to my attention that the courthouse had not been updated," Adams said.
A security committee composed of Adams, Massengill, county staff, Elite Contracting Group and W.H. Gordon placed the identified security needs into three priority categories. Adams said that those needs in the top priority category have been completed, and Elite Contracting Group will be working over the next couple of years to complete those needs in the county's "wish list."
"Let's just say, the security has improved greatly," he said.
Elite Contracting Group is a locally-based technology group that recently purchased the site of the former Rohoic Elementary School for $541,000. The former school will become the company's new headquarters and the site of a 21,750-square-foot warehouse and a 15,000-square-foot building, according to a master plan.
The company has completed a number of projects for the state and the Department of Defense.
Elite provided security services for multiple bridges and tunnels across the state for the Virginia Department of Transportation and outfitted the Virginia State Police headquarters with security features such as 5000 feet of perimeter security. They also provided perimeter security support to the Department of Defense at multiple facilities including Fort Lee and Fort Pickett.
- Vanessa Remmers can be reached at 804-722-5155 or email@example.com.
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