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Council to consider court security

Aldermen at the City Council agenda committee meeting held Monday voted to place a measure to increase court security measures on the agenda for action at the Aug. 19 regular council meeting. Meeting recommendations presented by Police Chief Jackie Davis would require about $44,000.

Committee members Angie Jones, Ryan Flynn, Rick Prentice, Dallan Buchanan, Ann Gilliam and Ed Long attended the meeting.

The committee also heard Mayor Bill Cypert’s encouragement to put the court security measure to the full council.

The agenda committee is made up of the public works, budget and personnel, and police and fire committees. The three committees meet jointly to confer on agenda issues.

Cypert urged the committee to place a resolution before the council on measures to improve district court security.

“Basically, it is non-existent,” Cypert remarked.

A 2011 report by Circuit Judge Sandy Huckabee on courtroom security deficiencies prompted him to ask Police Chief Jackie Davis to survey Cabot’s courtroom measures, Cypert said.

The resolution being considered is “Phase 1” of the recommendations made in the survey, Cypert said.

Davis said the initial measures would be increased video surveillance of the court complex – the courtroom, hallways and parking areas.

“There are often scuffles [in the court area] because of tempers coming out of court,” Davis said. The video could be available long after any incident, he said.

There would also be tamper-proof cameras for the holding cells, Davis said.

The second part of the first phase would be to control access to the court area, Davis said. Magnetic locks, such as those in use at the police station, would be a key part of the upgrade, he said.

There would be locks on the front, side and rear doors, as well as to court offices, Davis said. Not allowing free access prevents placing devices in the area, he said.

Committee members also voted for the full council to consider allowing up to about $34,000 for an additional code enforcement officer.

In Public Works actions, committee members emphasized the progress made on the list of harmful structures. In particular Nos. 10 and 4 Rockwood Drive and 2040 West Main St.

“I want to thank the community over there, they have been very patient,” Long remarked. He added that no one has been hurt in one of the houses, “But by the grace of God and our police department.”

The long-empty houses have deteriorated into dangerous conditions, but bankruptcy issues concerning the properties have stalled attempts by the city to remove them.

The issues have been resolved, Excel Ford has taken ownership with assurances the houses will be demolished as soon as possible to open the way for a new dealership.

Another house on the list, 101 South Lincoln St., is being demolished.

During public comment, a Cardinal Lane resident asked the committee for city action on parking in the street. Recent strict enforcement of the apartment complex rules on two parking spaces per apartment has forced more people to park in the street, often on both sides, dangerously narrowing the traffic lanes, he said.

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