The Scioto County Commissioners are taking threats seriously and are in the process of beefing up security in both the Scioto County Courthouse and the courthouse annex across the street. Commission Chairman Bryan Davis said Thursday, Southern Ohio Security was scheduled to tour the annex and talk about security.
“I can’t really speak to what’s been said in the past,” Davis said. “I can’t say too much about what’s been said recently. Some were very specific threats, graphic threats to not just office-holders, but family members as well. Others were general threats to offices in the courthouse over being mad about taxes and things like that.”
Davis, in order to protect office holders and other employees of the county, could not go into specific details about the threats. He did, however, say there had been an escalation in threats.
“All of a sudden everyone just went crazy,” Davis said. “We weren’t the only ones. One particular gentleman threatened everybody in the city. I was shocked.”
Recently on a visit to the Portsmouth Fire Department, he said he learned that Portsmouth Fire Chief Bill Raison had also been threatened.
“In this particular instance it is not just us in particular,” Davis said.
Davis said initially the cameras would be monitored by the commissioners’ office, but that job would be taken over by the deputies once they were in place.
“It’s general and specific enough to take it very seriously and to do something,” Davis said. “We’re one of, I believe, two courthouses in the state of Ohio that does not have a high enough level of security.”
The indication is that all types of security equipment – megnetometers, cameras and personnel will be involved in the process.
“We’re going to be meeting with the judges and seeing what we can do for a quicker fix on security on the first floor. It kind of goes along with the proposals from the (Scioto County) Sheriff on two deputies, $164.000. That’s what it was going to cost a year,” Davis said. “So we’re going to try to find a way to offset some of those costs.” He said the annex would most likely be done at half the cost of the main courthouse.
“I can’t speak for the judges. I don’t know their manpower requirements. I know just the little bit we’ve talked they’re stretched so thin, they’re running cases in so quick to try to keep their dockets somewhat (cleared).”
Davis said the courthouse already deals with security issues.
“We’re not totally defenseless, but I can’t say too much about what we are doing,” Davis said. “The cameras for here (courthouse) is $6,800 and that compliments what we already have.”
Davis said the commissioners are working with the Ohio Supreme Court for possible grants to defray the costs involved in the security build-up, but he indicated they may not want to wait that long
Davis said the decision concerning the closing of any entrances to the courthouse has not been made.
“This is just one issue that the county commissioners and the prosecutor and the sheriff and all the judges have to talk about,” Davis said. “We’ve already discussed some of these issues, the cost for incarceration, the crime rate, it’s getting out of control and this has been escalating and it’s all across the state of Ohio. The heroin, opiate addiction is a curse on our state.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.