Johnson County government offices will be equipped with new panic buttons that immediately alert security to respond if a courtroom fight breaks out or a gunman were to open fire on the property.
The old security system had 50 panic buttons in the courthouse, and when pushed, they alerted law enforcement officers to respond at the courthouse.
The new system doubles the amount of panic buttons. Up to 100 buttons can be installed and connected to the new receiver in the courthouse, and when pushed, the alert will signify exactly where security and law enforcement need to go.
Johnson County Emergency Management is using a $10,550 grant to upgrade the old security alert system to the newer, more advanced one in the courthouse, Johnson County Emergency Management Director Stephanie Sichting said.
The courthouse now will have more buttons in the courtroom, and offices around the building will have them installed as well. The west annex also will have panic buttons placed in various areas around the building that connect to the same system in the courthouse.
The buttons are not pushed often, but the upgrade is necessary because the older, outdated system only includes 50 buttons and with the buildings around the courthouse, more were needed, Sichting said.
The system runs off a receiver in the courthouse that sends a direct signal to security and law enforcement, informing them which panic button was hit so they can get to the location of the threat immediately.
“It’s just peace of mind,” Sichting said. “Employees can alert security without having to be near a phone and there is no alarm that goes off, so nobody (at the scene) will know when one of these buttons have been pushed.”
The old system will be used at the probation department on Jefferson Street after it is removed from the courthouse, Sichting said.
The grant covers only the purchase and installation of the new system, though, and it is unknown how much it will cost to install the old system at the probation department, Sichting said.