By Rod Rose
For the Times Sentinel
A strategic plan bolstering security at the Boone County Courthouse has been endorsed by the county commissioners and now needs fiscal backing from the county council.
The commissioners unanimously approved the plan Monday, May 20, sending a resolution to the council asking that it fund the program.
The five-year plan is “an ever growing, ever living document” that can be modified as needs and costs require, Boone County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Maj. Mike Nielsen said.
A priority step is hiring three special deputies soon, and by 2015 creating a seven-person courthouse security force that would also protect county offices in other buildings.
Hiring special deputies and paying them the same as jailers would lower the salary costs, Sheriff Ken Campbell said. “Merit” deputies are paid a base of about $44,000; jailers are paid a base of $34,808.
His preference, Campbell said, would be for merit deputies, but doubted the county council would agree to that expense.
“You can hire security for less and you’ll get what you pay for,” Campbell said. “I’m adamantly opposed to that.”
There are options in the plan to begin increasing staffing this year, “which is my preference,” Campbell said, or next year.
Thomas Whitsitt, a local attorney, said closing all but one of the four courthouse entrances, and requiring visitors to go through a security checkpoint, would create “a siege mentality.”
Whitsitt said he “strongly” supports hiring more personnel but is “adamantly opposed” to having a single, screened entrance to the courthouse.
See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.