After voters rejected the construction of a downtown justice center at the polls, Comal County Commissioners will discuss the need for better courtroom security Thursday during a closed-door executive session.

One of commissioners’ primary reasons for pushing for a new judicial facility was a lack of security in the current courthouse annex on Seguin Ave.

During the campaign, county staff, judges and sheriff’s deputies all said security at the facility was inadequate and potentially unsafe for jurors, judges and the general public.

But after 65 percent of voters opted against building a new justice center on May 8, commissioners are now forced to find ways to secure the existing facility.

“The threat has not gone away just because the justice center was turned down,” said Comal County Judge Danny Scheel, citing a bomb threat at the annex building on May 4. “We want to do whatever is necessary to make our employees and the public more secure.”

In addition to several county departments, the annex building houses two district courtrooms serving four judicial districts, as well as a county court-at-law.

None of the entrances into the courthouse annex are secured.

Metal detectors are only used for high-profile cases, and unsecured hallways offer defendants potential access to judges and attorneys.

Scheel said courthouse security personnel and the fire marshal’s office are currently looking for ways to secure the building until the county can settle on a long-term plan to build a new justice center.

Commissioner Jan Kennady said Thursday’s discussions likely would center around the need to seal off as many entrances as the fire marshal deems safe, as well the need for more metal detectors and more deputies in both the annex building and Commissioners’ Court. Commissioners’ Court will serve as the temporary home for County Court at Law No. 2 until the two-year restoration of the Comal County Courthouse is complete.

“Having not been successful in our effort to build a justice center, our first priority is to now make our facilities as safe as possible,” Kennady said.

Commissioners’ Court

8:15 a.m.

199 Main Plaza

(3) comments

M Morris

Lock all of the doors but 1. Since the skybridge is being removed, put the metal detectors on the first floor of each building. Use the metal detectors daily so the public is used to them. Have juries report and be qualified at the Commissioners Court building, then send them over to the Justice Center as needed. Spread out dockets to morning AND afternoon so the flow is more dispersed. Hire Chuck Norris as your security consultant.

George

Thank God the people were heard and voted against the Danny Scheel Criminal Justice Center. Who knows if the bomb threat was real. Perfect timing right before the elections when there has not been a threat in years. I agree totally with you cmercado. The current county comissioners court (except for Parker) need to be removed also. The recent wasteful spending has gone out of control.

Cindy Mercado

Well Ms. Kennady, perhaps this should have been the first priority before our tax money was wasted - 3 million would have certainly gone a long way toward the efforts for safety. If safety truly was the only motivation for the justice center then why are metal detectors only used for high-profile cases? Is that the only time that the safety of employees and the public important enough to dust off the security devices already in place? Sorry Judge Scheel, citing a kook making a crank call does not convince me of looming danger. So far the biggest threat to our community seems to be the wasteful spending of taxpayer money by the Commissioners Court which didn't end with the voter rejected justice center.

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