ETX county ramps up courthouse security -, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

ETX county ramps up courthouse security

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After the shooting in Kaufman, many counties began evaluating their own courthouse security measures. Henderson County has already made changes to make three of their county office buildings safer.

The metal detector is a new sight for those entering the Henderson County Judicial Complex in Athens. No one gets in without walking through it, including the judge.

"For some county employees it can be somewhat of an inconvenience, but I think everyone understands that it's necessary," says Henderson County District Attorney Scott McKee.

Before the security changes, the metal detector was only brought over to the judicial complex when attorneys were prosecuting high profile cases, but now it's becoming a fixture.

"If we can sustain the man power within this year's budget, we'll continue it. I feel confident we can," says Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt.

Sheriff Nutt has been aiming to beef up security for a while, and the tragedy in Kaufman encouraged the county to spring into action.

"It hits really close to home when a prosecutor is killed because we deal with people everyday that we're trying to send to prison or put on probation," says McKee.

Henderson County has also doubled the number of deputies monitoring the annex and the county courthouse, but securing a building with eight entrances isn't easy.

"We've looked at securing all of it with cameras and personnel. but we just got through laying off people. So, it's hard to justify using a bunch of money on that when you're laying people off," says Sheriff Nutt.

Henderson County is doing what they can with the budget that's already been put in place. Legislators in Austin are looking to take action, too.

"I think people are more concerned than they have been in the past with courthouse security and the well being of our public servants who are carrying out and enforcing the law," says Texas State Representative Lance Gooden. Gooden represents Kaufman County and parts of Henderson County.

"It's very important to us to know, as prosecutors and anyone that works in the county, that we're safe and there aren't people in there with guns and knives or things that they're not supposed to have," says McKee.

This summer, county commissioners will review the sheriff's 2014 budget for courthouse security. County officials say many people have already voiced their support of allocating more funds for safety.

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