Fulton County, Ga. commissioners are considering whether to cut more than $6 million for security upgrades, which were recommended for the county courthouse in response to the murderous rampage that occurred there five years ago, says an Atlanta Journal Constitution report.
Commissioners heard pleas from top court officials who said the security enhancements were sorely needed. Instead of making a final decision, commissioners tabled the issue until their next meeting on Aug. 18. "We are in a difficult situation at the courthouse," District Attorney Paul Howard told the panel. "We all know what happened with Brian Nichols. If someone asked me my opinion, I believe it has gotten more dangerous."
In March 2005, Nichols overtook a deputy in a courthouse holding cell and used her gun to kill a judge, a court stenographer and a deputy before fleeing and later killing an off-duty federal agent in his home. After a federal review, courthouse officials have proposed $4.5 million for a command center and monitoring system and almost $1.9 million in security upgrades for Juvenile Court, says the report.
The money for the security upgrades is less than what the county paid out in wrongful death claims to the families of Nichols' victims, Superior Court Chief Judge Cynthia Wright told the commission. "We think it's time for this commission to take a stand for security," she said. "This board is on notice there is a problem."
The report says the commission is considering whether to redirect funds for the security upgrades to other projects as part of more than $26 million made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Instead of security upgrades, the commission may spend the stimulus money on a $5 million "Aviation Cultural Community Center" near Fulton County Airport-Brown Field on Fulton Industrial Boulevard. Also being considered are a $1.5 million "re-entry center" at the county jail to combat recidivism and projects to upgrade a health center, enhance security at bus stops and provide transportation for senior citizens.