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The county commissioners unanimously approved funding for security upgrades to the Carroll County Circuit Court’s buildings, including augmenting visitor management, upgrading the panic button system and purchasing 17 additional security cameras.

Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2, said his only reservation was that he hopes in the future everyone will try to keep requests for funding within the budget cycle.

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“I don’t want that to take away from the fact that I think these are incredibly important and very much needed,” he said.

The $88,830 cost of the project will come from the county’s reserve for contingencies.

Part of the request should allow the Circuit Court to piggyback on some of the security upgrades approved for the county office building two weeks ago. The Circuit Court would be able to use the same license for the visitor management program, saving costs.

The new system will require visitors to scan their identification card in order to generate a sticker badge. The system would record who the visitor intends to visit in the building and notify that person. The collected personal information can be purged regularly, according to previous Times reporting.

Judge Fred Hecker, who serves as the administrative judge of the Carroll County Circuit Court, told the commissioners, “I don’t have to tell you, in today’s world, the security concerns that we all face.”

Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3 asked whether there would be any cost saving from completing the upgrades now rather than waiting to make a request during budget season.

The court’s representatives said they could save labor costs by doing the installation at the same time as the county office building’s systems.

Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, said the need for increased security saddened him.

"An example of that happened last week when we made a decision on a certain issue [regarding settling a prayer lawsuit] and several staff members were quite honestly scared to death on many of the phone calls we were receiving. ... That’s the world we’re living in now, and it’s absurd to me,” he said.

The panic button system will be upgraded through the courthouse, the courthouse annex and the visitation center, allowing it to be used by courthouse staff, Clerk’s Office staff and State’s Attorney’s Office staff.

Panic button upgrades in the three buildings totaled an expected $54,650. The panic button upgrades in the courthouse annex were the largest portion of the funding because it is the largest structure. The cost of 17 new security cameras was estimated at $31,880. The cost of the visitor management system was projected at $2,300.

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