Security plan gets one thumbs down

This small walk-thru sign on the side of a metal detector will at some point be on for real as tighter security measures will soon begin at the Garvin County Courthouse. The plan calls for the two annex doors to be the entrance points for the public. (PV Democrat photo)

Some big security upgrades planned for Garvin County's courthouse has one resident up in strong opposition, while a trio of commissioners and others say it's a matter of safety.

Elmore City area resident Carl Stevens believes the taxpayer money to be used for the new safety measures coming soon to the courthouse building in Pauls Valley could be better spent in other areas.

In fact, Stevens says he thinks it's a waste of the tax funds to hire two new deputies just to oversee metal detectors at the two annex doors, which will be the only two places for the public to enter the courthouse once the new security plan begins.

“I would rather see them spend that money on anything that's productive. Two guys standing at a desk is not productive,” Stevens tells the PV Democrat.

“My overall point is I oppose spending about $1 million over an eight-year period for two guys to stand at two different tables all day long. I oppose spending the $1 million and we're really not securing the courthouse.

“Overall the cost of government continues to rise and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. I don't like the inefficiency of how the government spends taxpayer money.”

Instead, Stevens believes the money could go for more patrols in the county, better patrol vehicles and improved wages for deputies and staff at the sheriff's office.

Stevens says he believes there are “many ways you can secure the courthouse,” such as having a roving deputy or placing one deputy in a more strategic location in the middle of the courthouse's first floor or even arming the employees working in the building.

The roving deputy concept is already in place with one assigned to the courthouse.

“I believe the best solution is to pay the employees, the ones who want to, to go get the training so they can legally carry,” he said.

“If we have all those courtrooms and offices covered, because you don't know who has a gun and who doesn't, then it's more secure.”

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On the other side of the issue are all three Garvin County commissioners and Sheriff Jim Mullett.

With officials thinking about this new security system for some time, Mullett said he's talked to a lot of folks about what they think.

He says every single opinion he's heard over time has been a positive one.

“I've been all over the county, from one end of it to the other, and I've never had one person tell me this was a bad idea,” Mullett said about this upcoming security plan for the courthouse building.

“I have heard things like, 'it's about time' or 'good job commissioners.' I have heard nothing but support for this.”

When it comes to the county commissioners it's about keeping courthouse employees and the public safe.

“We never did have security here in the courthouse before,” said Kenneth Holden of District 1.

“Right now the only security is one deputy, and he moves around in the courthouse,” said Gary Ayres of District 2. “It needs to be better. Better safe than sorry.”

“This is about safety for the people coming into the courthouse and the employees working in the courthouse,” said Mike Gollihare of District 3.

As their counsel, Carol Dillingham says the commissioners are required by law to have a full safety and security plan in place for the courthouse.

With that in mind a safety committee was formed some time ago, made up of employees in the courthouse. They've been working with Mullett and Dave Johnson, the county's emergency management director, to formulate a plan to better secure the courthouse.

“Every office in the courthouse has unanimously expressed an interest in wanting to improve security,” she said.

During a commissioners' meeting this week Mullett said he planned on extending the time for candidates interested in applying for those jobs of being the deputies assigned to watch the two entry doors on either side of the courthouse's annex.

“I can push it out more and post it again to draw some more interest. This is your hire, so I don't have a problem putting it on hold. I want to get the right people in the right places,” Mullett said.

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