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Floyd County to expand courthouse surveillance

Floyd County to expand courthouse surveillance

Camera system designed to peer into more areas

Anyone interested bidding on a contract to upgrade the Floyd County Courthouse’s security camera system has until Monday, Jan. 11, to put a bid in. Courthouse staff will give potential bidders a tour of the building at 10 a.m. Dec. 10.

The County Board of Supervisors approved specifications for the surveillance camera project at its Monday morning meeting. Supervisors decided to put the project through a formal bidding process after receiving a pair of vendor bids that were more than $80,000 in cost.

The path to this point began when the county asked its insurance carrier, EMC Insurance, to review the surveillance system and to recommend an Internet-based system.

The recommendation, dated July 21, calls for additional cameras in the jail and in the public areas of offices in the courthouse, such as behind the front desks of the county attorney, clerk of courts, county engineer, auditor, treasurer and veterans affairs offices. The recommended system would allow deputies to tap into cameras in the courthouse from computers in their patrol cars.

The Floyd County Sheriff’s Office, which provides security for the courthouse, began talking with vendors and the County Board heard from two at its Sept. 28 meeting: Total Security and Investigations LLC and Radio Communications Systems.

At its Oct. 12 meeting, the board decided to go forward with a formal bidding process.

Among the specifications approved Monday are the requirements calls for a system able to support a minimum of 64 Internet Protocol cameras.

Other capabilities the specifications call for include: – Being able to provide facial identification of all individuals at the main entrance, office entrances, counters, and in the the audience at the Board of Supervisors meeting.

– Viewing in stairwells, corridors, the elevator, the garage, parking lots and courtrooms. The courtrooms would have a switch so the judge can turn off the camera. Some of these areas do not have cameras at the moment.

– Full coverage of jail facilities.

All bids need to be good for a minimum of 30 days, in case anything needs to be clarified, the supervisors agreed to add. And the project will be expected to be done within 90 days of the contract being awarded.

Concern over courthouse security was on the rise across the state even before a March incident in Winterset when a man pulled a gun out in a Madison County courtroom.

In his state the judiciary report, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady referenced a Sept. 9, 2014, shooting in the Jackson County Courthouse as a turning point for courthouse security improvement.

“While the day of the Jackson County shooting was a tragedy, that was the day when tragedy was turned into an unwavering commitment to do everything possible to make sure every place of justice is a place of safety,” he said as he noted the state judicial branch is working with local government to identify and make improvements.

On Sept. 9, 2014, a former Maquoketa city manager upset over his property taxes fired a handgun at the county assessor, missing her. But he was wrestled to the ground and died after shooting himself.

“We have completed surveys to determine the current levels of security in each courthouse and have started to provide training to those who work in our courthouses and other state and county buildings,” he said.

By Chris Baldus [email protected]

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