Commissioners approved about $12,000 in overtime pay to allow 14 Sheriff’s deputies to train outside their regular hours protecting the courthouse and other county buildings.
The county will transfer just under $12,000 to pay officers assigned to security at the courthouse and Courthouse Annex Building to receive 32 hours of specialized training, all of which will count as overtime. Chief Deputy Fred Little said the training must occur on weekends because deputies assigned to the buildings are not interchangeable with other staff.
The security detail is down a man now due to injury, he added.
“There is no relief (for those deputies),” he said. “We can’t do training during the week because they have to provide security during that time.”
County Auditor Ann Wilson noted court approved overtime is a rare occurrence and said the transfer from the Courthouse Security Fund was appropriate.
County Judge Joel Baker said the court wants to make sure the deputies are properly prepared to handle threats. He said training and equipping deputies to protect the public, elected officials and staffs and themselves is a top priority.
“It seems like every week we see stories about security breaches in public buildings,” he said. “When people come into a courthouse they are more emotional so you have to be more vigilant.”
Sheriff Larry Smith thanked court members for supporting the deputy training. He said the 2005 courthouse shooting was a wake-up-call for law enforcement. Much of the focus of the training will involve firearms and different threat scenarios.
Smith said deputy preparedness is paramount.
“This type of training is an investment that can only be appreciated if it takes place before an event like the one that happened at the courthouse in 2005,” he said in a statement. “I campaigned on providing the training that was needed for all law enforcement officers with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office and I look forward to all 14 of our men and women coming back from the course with new and better ways to protect our citizens, elected officials and themselves.”
In February 2005, a courthouse shooting that killed three and wounded four others.