Hancock Grand Jury recommends more security in county courthouse
By Jennifer Lenain
Feb 12, 2013, 18:38
For the fourth time in two years, a Hancock County Grand Jury has recommended the county provide increased security at the Hancock County Courthouse.
"The grand jury recommended a total evaluation of the security needs of the
Hancock County Courthouse. We recommend that metal detectors and video surveillance be installed at the Hancock County Courthouse for better security and safety of the public as well as employees," according to the final grand jury report issued Friday by District Attorney Joel Smith.
"I am sure we will be more than happy to take any recommendations under consideration, especially when it comes to safety," President of the Hancock County Board of Supervisors Lisa Cowand said Tuesday.
As for the recommendations, she said, "We have improved dramatically - there is now a full-time deputy on duty that wands and a bailiff in each courtroom - but if the grand jury feels the need for a scanner, we will find the resources to do it."
"Anything we can do to improve, we'll take a serious look at the situation," she said.
The grand jury was sworn and charged on Aug. 14, 2012, by the Circuit Judge Lisa Dodson, and served from August 2012 to February 2013.
The grand jury met in session a total of eight days, considering a total of 123 cases, returning 28 no true bills; 79 true bills of indictment; eight cases were passed to the next grand jury; and eight cases were returned to law enforcement for further investigation.
"Of the 79 indictments, one was returned as Enhanced Penalties and one was returned as Habitual Offender," according to the final grand jury report issued by Smith.
The grand jury also recommended that:
• The Board of Supervisors re-evaluate the staffing levels of the Hancock County Sheriff's Office "in particular the need of additional road officers, criminal investigators and narcotics agents."
• The grand jury be presented progress reports at the end of each term from each law enforcement agency regarding previous recommendations.
• The District Attorney's Office and all law enforcement agencies continue to communicate with the Mississippi Crime Laboratory regarding the turn-around time of results.
• The Forestry Commission have continued training of staff and proper execution of processing criminal investigations and the evaluation of staffing levels, "in particular the addition of staff during peak fire season."
• The state fully fund education and "that each school implement higher security measures including school security officers and other higher security measures, such as panic buttons and safety programs."
• The ground level generators of the Hancock County Public Safety Complex be elevated for protection against harsh weather conditions.