Ford calls closed meeting to discuss countywide security

Somervell County Judge Mike Ford

Somervell County Judge Mike Ford

By Kathryn Jones

Editor

County Judge Mike Ford has called for Somervell County commissioners to meet in executive session on Feb. 19 along with invited elected officials to discuss ways to protect Somervell County.

The agenda item for 2 p.m. next Tuesday reads that the Somervell Commissioners Court will retire into a meeting closed to the public to “deliberate on matters relating to security, acts of terrorism and related criminal activity.” (Read it here: Public Agenda)

That wording prompted the Current to call Ford and ask for further details.

“This is not in response to any event,” Ford explained. “I’ve had some concerns about security since I’ve been a commissioner. I’ve invited all elected officials and some department supervisors to participate so we can talk about security and protecting” the county.

Late last month Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was gunned down outside the courthouse there by up to two masked suspects. His killers remain at large.

“Again, this (calling the meeting) is not in response to any particular issue,” Ford said. “Generally, all counties now are looking into” how they can better protect their employees and citizens.

“It’s a hard balancing act to be open to the public, which is where we want to be, and protect our employees,” Ford added.

The county Courthouse Annex currently requires people entering the courtroom to have their belongings and their bodies screened by a metal detector. Ford said he didn’t want to see the day when people entering the Somervell County courthouse at large would be screened, although some counties, particularly in urban areas, have gone that route or, like McLennan County in Waco, have limited public access to only one entrance now.

“You do give up some things for the security,” he said, adding that it also costs more money.

 

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