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Funding sought for courthouse cameras

July 20, 2012

County officials say funding from a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant could help fund the installation of extra surveillance cameras at the Oktibbeha County Courthouse Annex.

Representatives from the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department, the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District and county government met Friday to discuss pursuing those funds to supplement courthouse security. GTPDD representative Spencer Broocks said he has begun preparing the grant application which will seek funding from a state allotment. If Oktibbeha County is awarded the grant, funding would cover camera purchases, their installation and the required hardware, software and networking for surveillance, Brooks said.

“(Grant applications) are due July 31, but there is no timeline yet for when (the county) could hear something back,” he said.

OCSD Chief Deputy Chadd Garnett said the courthouse currently utilizes metal detectors at its main entrance and bailiffs check purses and bags that come into the building. When court is in session, he said at least two bailiffs monitor each courtroom, while another deputy is on hand at all times.

“The security of the courthouse falls under the sheriff’s department, but (Circuit Clerk) Glenn Hamilton actually discovered this grant opportunity,” Garnett said. “A camera system would be resourceful and help boost our security measures.”

Hamilton was unavailable for comment Friday.

County Administrator Don Posey said an additional layer of surveillance would increase safety at the annex. In the future, the county could acquire keypad access technology for high security areas like judges’ chambers. Hamilton and Posey’s offices are both located in the annex.

“I told Glenn … I don’t know what makes us in Oktibbeha County think we’re isolated from bad events,” Posey said. “Bad incidents happen somewhere in the world every day.”

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