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Greene County Sheriff's Department To Assume Courthouse Security Duties

Last updated on Saturday, February 23, 2013

(BLOOMFIELD) - The Greene County Sheriff’s Department will be assuming operation of security duties in the county courthouse starting as early as July.

Nick Schneider, of the Greene County Daily World reports, the commissioners agreed that changes in the way security is handled at the courthouse need to take place.

District 2 Commissioner Nathan Abrams, who was appointed in January to look into the security procedures and see what improvements could be made, reported that 100 percent of the local officeholders were in favor of placing armed law enforcement officers under the supervision of the sheriff's department in the courthouse.

In his report, Abrams noted, "This report in no way, shape or form reflects on the efforts or due diligence of any courthouse security employee. The focus of this report is to evaluate the effectiveness of the security system itself."

Abrams said he conducted interviews with all elected officials as well as the current security staff.

"While portions of the system, such as the metal detectors and the video surveillance, are adequate in the areas currently present, there is unanimous opinion of the individuals interviewed that the lack of arrest powers and uniformed armed officers leave the officeholders and the patrons of the courthouse at risk. The commission finds that, through no fault of the security employees, the system in place at this time is greatly deficient," Abrams stated.

Abrams recommended that the courthouse security be placed under the jurisdiction of the sheriff's department to "provide the level of security deemed appropriate by the Greene County Board of Commissioners".

The commissioner also said, "As a whole the sheriff's department will run it as they see fit."

Abrams and commissioner's attorney were charged with coming up with amendments to the two current courthouse security ordinances to reflect the desired changed.

The amendments could be presented to the commissioners possibly as early as next month's meeting that is set for 6 p.m. on March 5.

Commissioner's President Rick Graves said he hopes the changes can be made and the switch can be accomplished by July 1.

Current security staff would be welcome to apply to the sheriff's department for the new courthouse positions, Abrams told the Greene County Daily World.

In other action, the commissioners adopted an Emergency Management Agency Ordinance that more clearly spells out the line of succession and continuity of government in event of a disaster or emergency.

The 14-page document, outlines amended policies and procedures for the Dec. 6, 1988 ordinance for the EMA office.

For the purposes of declaring a local disaster emergency, the commissioners remain the primary executive officers. If a quorum is unavailable or is incapacitated, then the following line of succession will be followed: President of the commissioners; vice president of the commissioners, remaining commission member, county auditor, county clerk, county recorder, county sheriff and then the EMA director.

The amendments also re-establish a county emergency management advisory council, which will include: The president of the commissioners, the president of the county council, the mayors of Linton and Jasonville, a representative from each of the incorporated towns in the county, the county sheriff, the director of the emergency medical services and the commander from a local civil air patrol unit in the county - should the county form such a unit.

Among the other change are: Staffing to include an EMA director, a deputy director - which could be a paid or volunteer position - and an assistant deputy director or radio officer, which will be voluntary; new language concerning the duties of the EMA director and deputy director; a waiver of statutory requirements to be followed in the event of an enemy attack or state of emergency dealing with the entering of contracts, the incurring of obligations, the employment of permanent or temporary workers, the utilization of volunteer workers, the purchase and distribution of supplies, materials and facilities; and the appropriation and expenditure of public fund.

The changes to the ordinance also makes it unlawful to obstruct, hinder or delay the commissioners, the EMA director or participating emergency services organizations or authorized EMA volunteers from implementing, carrying out and enforcing the designated county emergency plan.

Any person who violates the emergency plan could be fined up to $2,500 per violation or a maximum amount allowable by law for ordinance violations.

Enforcement will rest with any regular or reserve police officer in the state of Indiana, according to the new ordinance.

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