The Curry County Commission has voted 4-1 to request proposals for an automated security system at the county courthouse.
At their meeting Tuesday, Commissioner Frank Blackburn voted against the measure, and commissioners Daniel Stoddard, Caleb Chandler, Wendell Bostwick and Robert Sandoval voted for it.
The vote came after a presentation by David Barnes of Isotec Security Inc.
“No facility using Isotec Security anti-terrorism technology has even suffered an armed assault,” Barnes said.
Barnes said Isotec Security technology is designed to provide an opportunity to identify and isolate a threat, contain its velocity and combat it. The company tailors systems and protocols for each site.
“Your security has to conform to your system,” Barnes said.
He said the security needs to be community-friendly, comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, not deface the aesthetics of the building and allow quick escape in case of a fire.
“Fire trumps all,” Barnes said.
For Curry County Courthouse, Barnes recommended entrance portals with metal detectors, glass that could withstand three close-range shots from a .357-magnum gun and an interlock system to keep people from entering if a possible weapon was detected on them.
Barnes recommended making the west courthouse entrance for employees and certain court officers only. The unmanned portal would allow only one person to enter at a time, with proper identification.
For the south entrance, Barnes recommended making it the handicap entrance, manned by a security officer. The portal would allow more than one person in at a time, but no bags would be permitted except for those carried by disabled people.
Barnes said bags disabled people brought would be hand-checked.
For the main entrance, he offered two suggestions. In one scenario, one or two guards would man the entrance and people would have to submit bags and anything metal on their persons for X-ray examination.
Because that door wouldn’t offer handicap access, Barnes said, the security doors could close faster, allowing about 12 people through per minute.
In the less expensive scenario, two guards would man the entrance without automated command and control.
Barnes offered three choices for security systems, ranging in estimated price from $130,000 to $330,000. Each stage offered payroll savings of more than $100,000 per year, according to his estimates.
The systems are meant to be low-maintenance, Barnes said.
Sandoval said he wanted to have what was necessary, but he thought one of the worst things would be to have guards with nothing to do at the main entrance, so the public wondered why they were being paid. Bostwick moved to issue a request for proposals to look into an automated system without committing.
Pyle later said the budget includes five new positions for courthouse security officers, for a total of six officers. However, the commission has instructed county administration not to fill the positions until other options, including automation, are considered to avoid recurring salary costs.