Jackson County Homeland Security Grant

Altus_It's a place we go to pay taxes, vote and see justice served.  But counties all over the state want their halls of justice to be much safer.  Jackson County is one of them.  They are striving for their piece of the national award given to Oklahoma in 2006 by the U-S Department of Homeland Security. That is why assessors from the State Department of Homeland Security were on the scene Wednesday.

They were checking the safety measures already in place at the courthouse.

Jackson County Safety Committee member Gerald Sherrill says they inspect things like security cameras and metal detectors, making sure they are being used as efficiently possible.

"They're doing a risk assessment on our courthouse, so we can see what areas we need to work on and improve the security," Sherrill said.

The assessment itself didn't cost a thing.

So far, they have found places where security cameras don't currently reach, and tight spots for metal detectors.    And when people facing trial for violent crimes are right in the same building, it's hard to feel completely safe.

Courthouse maintenance operator Keith Osborn says this grant will help make that happen.

"This is just more or less to enhance what we've already got, to improve what we've got and make it better, you know, keep everybody safe, Osborn said.

The assessors are here to help determine what security gaps there are and how best to fill them.

"This money really helps the smaller courthouses that don't have the funds to come in and do this extra stuff on their own," Sherrill said.

In 2006, the state received $1.5 million specifically for this project. 55 out of 77 counties in Oklahoma are participating.  Each of those counties will receive funds based on their individual needs, but all will receive a portion of the grant award.

The money being used to actually purchase the approved equipment will come from a capital improvements fund, specifically set aside for these kinds of purchases.  The Oklahoma Department of Homeland Security will then reimburse the county 100%.