The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

County Board and County Employees

Concerned about Courthouse Security "...the least secure building in the entire circuit"

By Sally Day for the Quill

Circuit Clerk Sandra Keane was asked by County Chairman Marty Lafary to begin the discussion about courthouse security during the July 9, 2013 meeting of the Henderson County Board. She noted the main issue is having more court security officers and that most employees would desire two officers, instead of one. "We don't want anything to happen to our employees," Keane said.

Henderson County State's Attorney, Scott McClintock stated, "This is the least secure building in the entire circuit." He mentioned the importance of having at least two security officers. He explained that recently, County Court Security Officer Larry Henry brought over four prisoners from the jail, to appear in court. One of these prisoners needed to use the bathroom due to illness. Officer Henry escorted him, and it left three prisoners simply sitting alone in the courthouse. One of these prisoners had allegedly punched Henderson County Deputy Keith DeJaynes in a recent exchange. State's Attorney McClintock further stated that due to the arrests made in Gulfport, the county has a number of "gang-bangers" come through the courthouse now. He mentioned he would rather have a deputy assist in escorting prisoners at all times; preferably one deputy to one prisoner.

Officer Henry is currently the only Court Security Officer. It was noted that additional deputies assist with bringing prisoners to the courthouse when asked.

Board member Mark Lumbeck said, "Prisoners need to be belly chained and leg ironed at all times of transfer." He continued, "If there is a problem in the courthouse, the Sheriff should address it." Henderson County Sheriff's Deputy Matt Link was present and said he would take back this information to Sheriff Steve Haynes, as the Sheriff had another commitment and could not be at the board meeting. State's Attorney McClintock added he had no problem talking to the Sheriff.

Board member Dave Hinshaw noted that a new secure office door on each employee office who would like one would cost approximately $1600. This type of door would have a speaker hole, allowing people to communicate through the door and a slide through for paperwork. State's Attorney McClintock definitely desired a door, while many of the other employees thought the door would be more of a hindrance to them. Board member Albert Renken wondered if there were any grants available from Homeland Security on this issue.

Chairman Lafary noted they should start with the State's Attorney's door and gather some information before proceeding with the remainder of security. The board agreed to this and tabled the remainder of the action until the next meeting.

It was learned that Henderson County Sheriff's Deputy David Thompson had resigned after 22 years of service with the county. Chairman Lafary thanked him for all his years of serving. Lafary also mentioned that Sheriff Haynes had told him he may hire a part-time officer to fill the void. Board member Lumbeck said, "The Sheriff is out of money; he is on the negative side with part-time personnel."

The board discussed some old computers. Chairman Lafary asked if the board would like to dispose of them, if some employees wanted them for their offices, or could employees bid on them for personal use. Circuit Clerk Keane mentioned her office would like some of them. They would need to be "cleaned of information" first. The computers will be distributed to offices which desire them and to individuals who would like them and those which are left over will be stored in an out building.

In other business, the board: