Supervisors Want Court Panic Buttons For Safety

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The Gila County Board of Supervisors recently approved panic buttons to protect judges in courtrooms, but put off a decision on a $200,000 package of security upgrades.

On the heels of worrisome threats and recent security breeches, the supervisors approved about $15,000 worth of initial improvements in courtrooms and county buildings. That includes “panic buttons” so that judges and others can quickly summon help if situations get out of control.

The Gila Courthouse Security Committee had divided its $200,000 proposal into three phases at the June 28 board of supervisors meeting.

“We broke down our list of security upgrades into important, very important, and extremely important at the meeting last week,” said Berthan DeNero, chairperson of the Gila Courthouse Security Committee and county director of human resources.

At a June 21 work session, Supervisor Tommie Martin suggested the Security Committee organize its recommendations based on cost.

“We can take action on the easy stuff quickly,” said Martin.

The committee has worked since February to create a list of security upgrades with the intent of preventing violence in the workplace.

The list includes:

• Installing metal detectors at the entrances of the Globe building and Payson courthouse;

• Hiring four armed guards to work the entrance and “wand” those who don’t pass the initial magnetometers detector test;

• Conducting background checks on all employees;

• Limiting after-hours access to teen and traffic courts;

• Installing cameras both inside and outside of courtrooms;

• Providing card access doors;

• Installing panic buttons both through phones and wireless;

• Requiring the removal of all objects that could be considered a weapon;

• Keeping statistics on threats and incidents;

• Increasing security for in-custody transports; and

• Limiting access to the three floors in the Globe government offices through the elevators.

The most expensive security measure involves hiring five courthouse security officers for a cost of $172,800 per year.

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