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Brazos County eyes security upgrades at courthouse, jail

Brazos County leaders have set aside over $630,000 in the FY22 budget for the security enhancements.
Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 12:53 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2021 at 6:14 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Soon, when you visit the Brazos County Courthouse or the Brazos County Detention Center, you could notice new security enhancements and procedures.

As part of the county’s proposed 2021- 2022 budget, Brazos County leaders have set aside over $630,000 for capital projects for the two buildings.

Brazos County Judge Duane Peters says with violence happening at courthouses across the country, it was important to put extra security measures in place to keep citizens and staff safe.

“There’s been a lot of violence that’s happened around courthouses,” said Peters. “We’ve looked at the way people are able to enter the courthouse and planned a long time about how’s the best way to change that to make it safer for everybody that’s in the courthouse.”

“The court cases are really where a lot of times it seems like the violence happens. Whether it’s families with kids or criminal type, you just never know, but that seems to be where the most of the violence has occurred in other areas,” said Peters. “So that’s really what we wanted to focus on, that area where we’ve got all our courts.”

Currently, visitors to the courthouse and staff have two separate entrances, which could soon change.

“Right now, employees come through the exit; that’s how they enter, and then everybody else enters through the front door,” said Peters. “Well, we’re going to change that configuration to where the employees and everybody will come in the front door. There will be a line that will allow the employees to go through and another line that everybody else in the public can go through.”

Lt. David Villarreal of the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office helps lead the team of deputies tasked with keeping the courthouse safe and secure. He says there have been some recent incidents at the courthouse that let him know that improvements need to be made sooner rather than later.

“We’ve actually had a couple of incidents here at the sheriff’s office that were not that extreme. They were taken care of before they got to that point, but it still starts to make it more mindful that we aren’t insulated,” said Villarreal.

“Ultimately we’re going to build a wall along Texas Avenue. Our elected officials are totally unprotected along that area,” said Villarreal. “We even had a car drive over that curb one time. So we kind of wanted to tighten that up a little bit.”

The Brazos County Jail is looking to implement $160,000 in upgrades, including a new body scanner.

“We always want to keep our jail as secure as we can, and having a body scanner like this allows us to do a much more thorough search of everyone coming into the jail,” said Brazos County Sheriff’s Deputy David Wilcox.”

Brazos County Commissioners have scheduled a public hearing to receive input from residents. The hearing will be held Tuesday, Aug. 31, in the Commissioner’s Courtroom located at the Brazos County Administration Building 200 S Texas Ave, Bryan, TX 77803. The budgeted hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

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