PRINCETON — County officials must have courthouse security measures in place by Jan. 1, 2020, according to a newly amended Indiana Supreme Court administrative rule.
Gibson County Sheriff Tim Bottoms presented a set of courthouse security minimum standards to Gibson County Commissioners Tuesday morning.
The rule notes that plans are to be submitted by the courts of each county to the Indiana Office of Court Services biennially. The order specifies that the plan and any security policy and procedures manual adopted as a part of the plan are excluded from public access.
But some measures are apparent and others will become more apparent. "We are one of a handful of counties that don't have a secure entrance," Commissioner Mary Key said Tuesday.
Commissioner Steve Bottoms said the county's two judges, Jeffrey Meade and Robert Krieg, have applied for grants for security measures.
"Somethings going to have to be done," Key said. "It's past time...we'll come up with what we can, where we can."
Measures could mean only one secure entrance to the courthouse, likely via the south ground-level door, which is handicap-accessible.
The courthouse has four entrances by exterior steps, but the east and west entrances are locked. The building also has ground-level entrances on the north and south sides of the building, and a service entrance on the west side which is locked.
Security measures already in place include video court appearances via uplink from the Gibson County Jail for most criminal cases, reducing the risks associated with transport of prisoners from the jail to the courthouse.
The courts have armed security officers and during some proceedings, use metal detector wands.
Other measures already in place prohibit carrying large bags, or subjecting anyone other than court personnel carrying bags into courtrooms to a search of their property.
The courthouse is also equipped with security alarms in each office.
The Gibson Superior Courtroom was renovated in recent years, redesigned to separate criminal defendants in police custody from the spectator gallery.