Three Tea Party supporters found themselves locked inside the Hinds County Courthouse last week. That incident is raising questions about the facility's security.
"It's quite unsettling," said Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith, when asked about recent security flaws found within the county courthouse.
The vulnerabilities were exposed following an incident last week where three Tea Party members, Central Mississippi Tea Party president Janis Lane, Chris McDaniel campaign coalition director Scott Brewster and supporter Rob Chambers, were locked inside the courthouse for hours.
"I'm wondering about the sticking of the door," said Smith. "If it was sticky enough to get in, I don't see how it was sticky enough not to get out. I have some questions I need answers to."
However, the employees-only door isn't the only flaw. The other: the facility's security cameras. That footage isn't recorded, meaning no one knows what went on in that courthouse hours after election night.
Smith said he's also troubled by the potential access those three, or anybody inside after hours, could have.
Hinds County Administrator Carmen Davis says the cameras fall under the board of supervisors, but the personnel and security staffing is the responsibility of the Hinds County Sheriff's Department.
District 5 Supervisor Kenneth I. Stokes said the sheriff's department could be doing more.
"I would hope that we could look at 24-hour security at these courthouses like there's 24-hour security at City Hall," said Stokes.
Meanwhile, Smith is continuing the investigation into what happened last week. He says not all of those involved were interviewed by the sheriff's department, leaving unanswered questions.
"Whatever the conclusion is, we're certainly neutral in this situation," said Smith. "But we certainly deserve to find out who is in the courthouse given all of the offices that are in the courthouse."
The sheriff's department investigation was closed less than 48 hours after the three were found inside the courthouse, a timeframe Smith agreed sounded rushed.
In addition, Smith said the press release from HCSO containing the investigation's findings did not mention the agency turning the case over to the DA's office, which he said is standard procedure.
Smith added they should have communicated that more effectively.
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