Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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February 6, 2013

Tanner serious about security

Corsicana — Even when he was on the campaign trail, new Navarro County Sheriff Elmer Tanner was thinking about ways to make Navarro County safer.

Last week, Tanner requested the commissioners court’s approval of a courthouse security audit by a Sam Houston State professor — something as a law enforcement officer and tactical commander for the county’s SWAT team he saw the need for some time ago.

Last Friday, the reasons for Tanner’s concerns were reinforced with the ambush of a Kaufman County prosecutor, killed in the parking lot of the Kaufman County Annex building.

“I recognized immediately that there was a need for an evaluation for security reasons there in the courthouse before the incident in Kaufman,” he said. “We owe it to our civilians, we owe it to the employees that are in the courthouse to make that the most secure facility that it can be.”

He’s already taken steps in his first weeks in office to change some procedures and practices in Justice Center security.

We’ve been fortunate so far, he said.

“We have to prepare ourselves for such an incident here,” Tanner added, in light of recent events in Texas and across the country.

“God forbid, we hope it never happens,” he said, “but we have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”

Commissioners approved Tanner’s request to engage Tim Quintana, an adjunct professor at SHSU, to conduct the courthouse evaluation. Commissioners authorized a $500 expenditure for the survey by Quintana, as requested by the sheriff.

“I think bringing in an expert, first and foremost, to analyze the building and grounds is going to be paramount to formulating any kind of plan going forward,” said County Judge H.M. Davenport Jr. “It’s something we’ve been needing to do.”

Quintana said security in county buildings is in many instances modeled after public buildings, including barriers to prevent vehicles from striking a building, and modern security equipment. The analysis will include a complete review of the physical plant and existing security procedures and plans in place.

Planning is vital, he said.

“You have to start with a plan that everybody will support,” Quintana said. “The sheriff is responsible by law for the security of the courthouse, but everybody that has an office or works in the courthouse is a part of security as well, much like a ‘neighborhood watch program,’” he added.

“Anything is possible at any point in time,” Tanner said. “I am certainly concerned with the amount of workplace shootings, school violence situations, and things such as what just happened in Kaufman.

“We are going to take pro-active measures to make sure it doesn’t happen here,” Tanner added. “We want to keep our citizens safe.”

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Bob Belcher may be reached by email at bbelcher@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com

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