County considers security


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Cameras and key-card swipes will soon be the norm as a part of the security update plan in place for the Johnson County Courthouse.

“It’s an 1800s building that wasn't built for modern society so we’ve been trying to implement security as much as we can,” Supervisor Janelle Rettig said.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the newly updated security plan in Thursday’s after previous discussion and finalization of a few of the steps.

Rettig said the plan includes assessment of how the building handles infrastructure as well as internal issues.

While upgrades also include an emergency-button system, Rettig said an annex is the top priority.

“What we really need is a courthouse annex to increase space and improve security,” she said.

Much of the meeting was also dedicated to a presentation detailing the multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation.

Dave Wilson, the Johnson County emergency management director, presented the details of the plan and said this is the first time it has included numerous jurisdictions.

The reason for this, he said, is because numerous hazard plans created disjointed and conflicting ideas; this one allows for maximizing strategy by bringing the jurisdictions together.

Rettig said she thinks this change is a positive one.

“Disasters don't know geographical boundaries,” she said. “We’re recognizing that these threats are multi-jurisdictional. This is a better way of doing it.”

Wilson said steps include creating local planning teams, determining possible hazards and evaluating them, as well as creating action plans for implementation.

Each hazard is then assessed for probability, magnitude or severity, and duration. Additionally, the team evaluated a reasonable amount of time to allow for warning the public of the upcoming hazard.
Wilson said the plan is adjusted every five years, and the process will begin again in 2016.

“It seems like a repetitive cycle, but it really is because things evolve,” he said.

Supervisor Pat Harney said this specific cycle is coming just in time.

“Timing on this is just about right [as] we’re coming into severe-weather season,” he said. “When we get into spring and early summer … we have to have plans adopted.”

Even though he said the public is most likely unaware of the plan, they will be grateful for it in the event of a natural disaster, such as the 2008 flood.

The plan will cost about $50,000, all of which came from Homeland Security grant funding.

Currently, numerous school districts and communities are in the process of adopting the strategy.

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