New cameras added to Franklin Co. Courthouse; sheriff's officials say more deputies needed

(WBNS)
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COLUMBUS, Ohio — More than 3,000 people pass through the Franklin County Courthouse in downtown Columbus each weekday.

Some of the tense moments can play out on floors three through six. That is where the domestic and juvenile courts are found.

"Essentially, everyone that gets assigned a court date has roughly the same court time, so everybody shows up to court at the same time," said Franklin County Sheriff's Major David Oyer, who oversees the security operations division. "At its high point, you're probably talking 600 or 700 people."

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Up until recently, there was just one camera to monitor all of the activity on each of those floors. That has now changed, but Franklin County Sheriff's Office leaders say the changes are not enough.

"We do the best we can with the staff we have, and that's where the cameras come in handy," Oyer said. "By and large, it's an after-the-fact situation. It's just a tool to be used to document something later on. In a perfect world, we'd be discouraging the act, rather than catching it on film later on."

The sheriff's office officially took over security of the government complex in 2014. Major Oyer says, right away, the sheriff's office knew changes needed to be made.

He says the office has asked for more deputies for years. And he knew they needed more cameras, too.

That finally happened last fall.

Dozens of new cameras were installed on those four floors. That took the total from one camera per floor to a total of 12 to 17 per floor.

It was all part of a huge security overhaul at the courthouse and juvenile detention center. Along with 81 cameras, new doors and panic alarms also were installed. The total cost was about $750,000.

"We've always said that we needed more security on the juvenile court floors," Oyer said. "There's generally always four deputies here a day, and we've always said that that's not enough."

In fact, Oyer says the sheriff's office is requesting nine more deputies in the upcoming budget. The commissioners will not review that until the end of next month.