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Security Concerns Dictate Montgomery Co. Courthouse Changes

Stan Jastrzebski

Hoping to prevent violent actions like those at the Tippecanoe and Howard County courthouses, Montgomery County officials are trying to expedite security upgrades to their courthouse.

County Commissioner Phil Bane says a judge recently received a phone call threatening his life, leading to discussions about how to make the structure and its inhabitants safer.

“And then we started talking about the exterior of the building – what can we do to keep something from happening here similar to what happened in Lafayette when a guy drove a pickup truck – or tried to – into the basement of their courthouse?”

He’s referring to a 1998 incident which fortunately didn’t result in the explosion intended by whoever packed that truck with gasoline and other flammable materials.

That incident was less severe than an explosion in the Howard County courthouse in 1987, which killed the man who’d packed pipe bombs into a briefcase during his trial on drug charges, hoping to kill the judge in his case.

Tippecanoe County officials installed countermeasures within two weeks, but it could take Montgomery County a year to secure a door off a parking lot through which prisoners are transported.

Bane says there are still some unknowns about the project, including how much must be done to bring all areas of the courthouse into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. All told, he estimates the various projects could cost taxpayers $750,000.