Courthouse security

Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew is shown in the county courthouse in a April 2015 photo.

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal file

SIOUX CITY | For nearly 100 years, people have worked, served on juries and conducted business in the downtown Woodbury County Courthouse with few security measures in place. That will change on July 1 with the addition of cameras, a scanning machine and limited building access.

The County Board on Tuesday voted to adopt a $250,000 comprehensive courthouse security plan.

The 1918 building at 620 Douglas St. houses county offices and courtrooms. 

Board member Jackie Smith, of Sioux City, called the security boosts "historic."

"We need the courthouse security," said County Board Chairman George Boykin, of Sioux City. "It is an issue we have to address."

The funding won't become official until the fiscal year 2014-15 budget is finalized in March, but the plan will be paid for with property tax revenues.

The measure passed on a 4-1 vote. County Board member Larry Clausen, of Sioux City, said there is a "compelling argument" to add the security measures, but cast the dissenting vote, saying the county can't afford the plan.

Several county employees, including County Attorney P.J. Jennings, urged the board to secure the building.

A county Security Committee in 2013 finalized a plan to provide the first substantial security measures in the history of the building. The committee proposal was an estimated $270,000, but county officials will keep the cost to $250,000.

One decision to be made is whether courthouse security personnel will be employed full or part time.

The estimated one-time cost of adding nine security cameras and other technology is $100,000. Three workers would staff the scanner by running metal detection wands over people, at a rough annual cost of $170,000. County Sheriff Dave Drew said the county plans to hire retired law enforcement personnel to operate the technology.

Bids will be obtained for the cameras, which would capture both the interior and exterior of the courthouse.

Also under the plan, the west courthouse entrance along Douglas Street would be closed and people would enter only through the north doors. The metal detector would be placed at the north entrance, and signs would advise people that knives, guns and other weapons could not be brought into the building.

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County and education reporter

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