County discusses
courthouse security

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

With the moving of the sheriff's office imminent, the Lawrence County Quorum Court is looking at ways to address security concerns in the courthouse due to a lack of on-site officers.

During Monday night's meeting, justices discussed several options to improve security for the courthouse. County Judge John Thomison presented a panic button type system that operates through a phone app. He said this would give them an easy direct link to emergency personnel.

This system would cost the county $15,000 to be paid over a five-year period.

Justice Tracy Moore showed support for allowing courthouse staff with concealed carry licenses to be armed in the courthouse. A conceal carry policy for staff has been discussed at previous meetings, but research is still being done.

While a motion by Alex Latham and seconded by Moore called for an ordinance to be drafted by County Attorney Clay Sloan, it was later withdrawn after Sloan advised against it.

Sloan said a conceal carry license was too easily acquired for him to recommend allowing staff with them to be allowed to bring in their firearm. He instead strongly encouraged the court to see about a deputy stationed at the courthouse.

Thomison and Sheriff Jeff Yates have both looked at the potential of having a deputy at the courthouse after the department moves. Between court hearings, patrols and other business, Yates said a deputy would be at the courthouse more often than not. However, it is still uncertain if one can be available at the courthouse during all business hours.

Yates said he would look into having an officer posted at the courthouse further and report back.

The court also tabled the panic button system for a month as there is still time before the sheriff's office moves, which is expected to start at the end of February.

Also at the meeting, justices:

approved a pass through reimbursement of $33,066.54 to the sheriff's office for furniture, fixtures and equipment for the new jail.

appointed Justice Lloyd Clark to be the representative at the Association of Counties meeting on April 14.

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