Increased courthouse security discussed

The need for better security measures at the Lincoln County Courthouse was addressed at the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday. Not because something has happened, but rather in the event something could happen.

Sheriff Kerry Lee spoke to the issue and said his concerns stem from an incident March 13 when a man and woman escaped from custody in White Pine County, headed south into Lincoln County in a stolen vehicle, committed a couple of burglaries and were known to be possession of several firearms.

He said, “After my office and NHP were alerted, we were able to locate the suspects, and after a short high speed chase, that ended only a few miles north of Pioche, were able to stop the vehicle and arrest the suspects without resistance.”

During that time Lee said the sheriff’s department called for a lockdown at the courthouse and Pioche Elementary school.

He suggested commissioners consider developing a policy or procedure for courthouse employees of how to address something that might turn out to be more serious, such as an active shooter or disturbed person. “How are we going to do a lockdown, what will that consist of, who is responsible as overseer, etc.?”

He noted three incidents of concern have occurred in the county in just the past month, although all three turned out for the best. “It’s important for us here to know what to do and who is responsible for that. I have also tried to set up a system where each department can be notified by telephone in case of emergency.”

Commissioner Kevin Phillips said one of the district court judges talked with him awhile back about local security measures.

Acting board chair Varlin Higbee recommended County Emergency Management Director and County Fire Chief Rick Stever be put in charge of a committee consisting of representatives from the various departments to investigate the issue and create a procedure. “We need to do something and be prepared.” he said.

Apparently, the courthouse is equipped with silent alarm buttons, but employees say they don’t work because batteries to operate the system are no longer manufactured.

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