Commissioners voted to seek bids on an internal security upgrade for the jail. The board also appropriated up to $100,000 to purchase two patrol cars and at least one van for the jail and agreed to get advice from consulting firms on ways to tighten security at the courthouse.
None of the items were listed on the agenda approved for Monday’s meeting. An executive session was held at the end of the meeting to discuss the issues involved.
Chairman Billy Luster said commissioners recently became aware of a security breach at the jail that prompted them to act swiftly.
He added that quick action was also needed in order to purchase vehicles for the jail at a sale being hosted in Montgomery on Friday.
Sheriff John Mark Tirey repeatedly expressed the need to replace some of the vehicles in his department’s aged fleet during recent budget discussions with commissioners.
“That’s really a security issue also because of transporting inmates. It’s part of an agreement we had with him during the work sessions that we were going to get him some vehicles if at all possible, and we found the money to get a couple vehicles and possibly two vans depending on the pricing,” Luster said.
Security at the Walker County Courthouse has long been a concern.
Earlier this year, the courthouse was placed on lockdown after a Jasper man reportedly threatened to kill several people, including his ex-wife. Several weeks before that incident, a man fled a district courtroom after being found in contempt of court.
“While we were on the subject of security, we thought we would get some consultants to come in and give us a more efficient way,” Luster said.
Luster said because the 2014 budget is so bare bones, commissioners will be required to pass budget amendments at future meetings to cover the expenses involved in Monday’s actions.
In other action, the commission agreed to continue a mentoring program with a grant provided by the Alabama Department of Youth Services.
There is no cost to the county for the program, which is in its second year in the area.