City and county leaders are mulling the possibility of installing additional security measures for the northern side of the Civic Center complex, including secure gates and a protective fence. The idea behind the endeavor is to prevent any attack on the court judges, law enforcement officers and elected officials that access that portion of the complex, according to Sheriff Dave Wedding.
The northern part of the Civic Center complex, which is adjacent to Sycamore Street, provides access for the Evansville Police Department, prisoner transport vehicles, elected officials, court judges and other court staff members.
In recent months, a number of officials including Sheriff Wedding, Police Chief Billy Bolin, judges and members of the Building Authority conducted an assessment of the northern part of the complex, which includes a sally port and two parking lots. Wedding said the consensus was unanimous: more security was needed.
“We’re trying to keep this as safe of an environment as we possibly can,” Sheriff Wedding said. “We’ve seen throughout the US and throughout the world that there’s a lot of violence against governmental institutions. We just want to protect the people who make decisions that impact behavior of other people.”
There have been instances in which people have been loitering outside the police entrances and parking lots, Sheriff Wedding said. There are also concerns about angry individuals wanting to confront an elected official, judge or police officer.
“There’s a lot of volatility here [at the Civic Center],” Sheriff Wedding said. “Somebody goes to court and they’re found guilty or not guilty; family members are upset; divorce cases are being heard; child custody and child support cases; even when somebody who’s upset because their water bill is too high or their water is shut off. There’s a lot of volatility inside the Civic Center sometimes.”
Some of the proposed security increase include an enhanced sallyport door, which would remain closed but would still provide access to those with a security fob. Other improvements include a security gate in front of the two parking lots as well as a security fence surrounding the judge’s parking lot. Sheriff Wedding said officials are also exploring whether to add bollards to the front of the complex which are steel and concrete tubes that prevent cars from driving into the building.
The estimated cost for the overall project is between $200,000 and $400,000, Sheriff Wedding said. The cost will depend upon which security measures are deemed necessary.
“Do we want to wait for something tragic to happen before we actually act upon that or do we want to get ahead of the plan to try and prevent something tragic from occurring in our community?” Sheriff Wedding said.