Courthouse security in question
When phase 2 of the major Harrison County government buildings project was complete, it included a security vestibule on the south side of the courthouse in downtown Corydon.
The plan was to lock all other entrances to the building and have a security officer on guard at the lone entrance. But, the project was completed more than a year ago and a security guard is still nowhere to be found.
The issue was brought up again Monday night by Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye at the first Harrison County Council meeting of the year.
‘Security issues keep popping up at the old courthouse,’ Seelye said.
Seelye said many of Circuit Court Judge John Evans’ cases have the potential for high emotions and even violence because he deals with domestic issues such as child custody.
‘Some people are finding out if they’ll see their kid ever again or not,’ Seelye said. ‘The potential for violence is there.’
The sheriff said he’s willing to consider handling security at the courthouse, but he would need more people, suggesting a part-time and a full-time position.
Seelye said that just last week someone became aggressive and had to be tased at the courthouse.
‘Eventually, we’re going to have issues,’ he said.
Council Chair Gary Davis said the council is aware of the problem and has discussed it with Evans in the past and approved two part-time positions last year. However, he said, Evans requested full-time for the position.
‘The council’s ready to entertain a funding proposal that solves the security problem,’ Davis said.
He said Seelye, Evans and the commissioners need to come up with a plan and report it back to the council.
The council does not, however, in most circumstances, hire a full-time position outside of the annual budget session in the fall, Davis said, adding that part-time help is probably the most viable option.
Councilman Richard Gerdon said the majority of the council is on board to do what needs to be done for proper security.
Seelye said a magnascanner (security metal detector) will be needed at the entrance of the building. For now, the south side is the only entrance open to the public; all other doors can only be used as emergency exits.
Seelye also discussed creating a non-reverting fund for the seizure of drug assets forfeited or secured by the sheriff’s department.
He said it would be of no cost to the county and the sheriff’s department could spend the funds on anything to further the work of the department.
Davis asked if the council could approve the funding once it’s in the fund and the sheriff’s department plans to spend it, but Seelye said that would not be a good idea.
‘To be candid, that could potentially be a problem,’ the sheriff said.
Seelye said the department may need to buy drugs and have a large amount of cash to do so, actions the council wouldn’t have any business approving.
A similar ordinance used by the Floyd County Sheriff’s Dept. brings in about $1 million per year, Seelye said.
‘It’s a huge boon potentially for the county,’ he said. ‘We’ve missed the boat for a long time on this.’
Gerdon said it’s a win-win for the county.
The council will discuss the ordinance further at its next meeting, which will be Monday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon.
Being the first meeting of the year, the council again named Davis as chair, Phil Smith as vice chair and Mike Summers as legal counsel. Sherry Brown was the only new councilmember added after the November Election.
The council made yearly board appointments as follows: Brown, 4-H Council (succeeds Councilman Ralph Sherman); Harry L. Smith, Alcohol Beverage (re-appointed); Phil Smith, Harrison County Alternative Education Center, Harrison County Lifelong Learning and Harrison County Solid Waste (re-appointed); David Melton, Harrison County Board of Zoning Appeals (succeeds George Ethridge); Gerdon, Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County (re-appointed); Sherman, Harrison County Economic Development (re-appointed); Michael Smith, Harrison County Emergency Management Agency (succeds former Councilman Chris Timberlake); Councilman Jim Heitkemper, Family and Children and Harrison County Plan Commission (re-appointments); Carol Yoder, Harrison County Parks (succeeds Wanda Jenks as Democrat representative); Nina Faith, Property Tax Board of Appeals (re-appointed); Davis, Harrison County Economic Development and Harrison County Regional Sewer District (re-appointments); Dan Lee, Harrison County Regional Sewer District (re-appointed); and Councilman Gordon Pendleton, River Hills (re-appointed).