WILMINGTON — After several years of reduced courthouse security, it’s being strengthened and people entering the building will again be checked by detection devices.
On Wednesday, Clinton County commissioners authorized the sheriff to purchase a $25,000 X-ray scanner as part of the increased security measures being put in effect at the Clinton County Courthouse.
“I’ve told commissioners for several years now that we need better security at the courthouse. Anybody with a gun could walk in there if they wanted to,” Clinton County Sheriff Ralph Fizer Jr. said Wednesday.
There was security equipment in place in the courthouse lobby for a number of years prior to the onset of the local jobless crisis and the national economic recession, according to Fizer. A shrinking tax base led to budget cuts, including courthouse security, added the sheriff.
He said he is “100 percent” for the renewed security measures, saying Clinton County’s courthouse was one of a few in Ohio without a system in place.
The increase in security involves adding three deputies to the sheriff’s staff.
Clinton County Commissioner President Patrick Haley, who is a former Clinton County sheriff, spoke in an interview about the heightened security steps.
“We just live in a violent world and none of us are immune to that violence. We feel strongly as commissioners that we need to protect the public, we need to protect the employees, and maintain the integrity of this courthouse, and we’re going to make the investment to improve security,” said Haley.
The commissioner added that emotional, highly charged individuals frequently come into the courthouse and through the courts there.
The cost of the stronger security hasn’t been finalized, he said.
“But I think it’s something we owe the taxpayers and the people of this community to make the courthouse as safe as possible,” said Haley.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.