Howard County commissioners will meet Monday morning to discuss a number of issues, including the use of a new computer application to help improve security at the county courthouse.
According to County Judge Mark Barr, the program — known as Copsync — will basically turn every operational computer in the courthouse into a way to reach out to law enforcement if something goes wrong.
“I really feel like this is a step in the right direction for security at the courthouse,” Barr said. “This program is loaded on every computer here at the courthouse and, from there, employees will have a way to call for help from law enforcement if something goes wrong. It's just another way for us to bring the security at the courthouse up to date and make the entire facility safer.”
Howard County Sheriff Stan Parker said the software will also be used at local schools.
“We've already made arrangements with Coahoma Independent School District and Forsan Independent School district to have this software loaded onto their computers,” Parker said. “Once it's installed, employees at the school can use any computer there to call for law enforcement help.”
According to Parker, the software allows users to send out a message or distress call that is immediately sent to the law enforcement officers who are closest to the sender.
“At the schools, they have the option to send out a message or a distress signal,” Parker said. “With the message, they could send out a message that says, 'We have a belligerent person at the school, we need you to send officers,' and that message would go out to the five nearest law enforcement officers.
“With the distress call, all they have to do is hit the 911 button and a distress call goes out to the five nearest cars, as well as to dispatch. Those officers will be able to not only see what facility the call is coming from, they will be able to tell which computer sent it. This software goes a long way to help secure our schools and the courthouse against violence.”
While the Howard County Sheriff's Office will be working to have the software installed at CISD and FISD, Parker said the Big Spring Police Department will be handling efforts to get the program installed at Big Spring Independent School District locations.
Parker said the software is an offshoot of the programs he hopes to have installed in sheriff deputy's patrol cars, as well as a smartphone app that is currently in the works.
Also during Monday's meeting, commissioners are expected to discuss lending their support to an effort to have water lines installed to several residences in south Coahoma.
“This was brought to us by Commissioner Donnie Baker,” Barr said. “From what he's told us, there are nine families in the southern part of Coahoma who have had their wells dry up and have been hauling water into the residences. They've been having to do this for about two years.
“Apparently, there's a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant that could help pay for the installation of water lines that would tie those nine residences into the water system in the city of Coahoma. My understanding is Commissioner Baker is going to ask the county to support the grant application, which is usually a requirement for these types of grants.”
Barr said arrangements have already been made with the city of Coahoma if the grant comes through.
“Coahoma has already told us they would be OK with having these additional residents tie into their water system,” Barr said. “It's simply a matter of finding the funding to pay for it.”
Monday's meeting will get under way at 10 a.m. in the commissioner's courtroom, located on the third floor of the county courthouse. For more information, contact the county judge's office at 432-264-2202.