Commissioners discuss ‘panic buttons’ problem

Published 10:37 am Wednesday, May 29, 2019

By Chris Moore


BEAUMONT — About half the “panic buttons” in the Jefferson County Courthouse courtrooms aren’t functioning, commissioners said Monday, a situation that County Judge Jeff Branick said he hopes that can be fixed soon.

During a workshop about capital construction projects within the county, Precinct 4 Commissioner Everette “Bo “ Alfred said he was concerned about a report he saw that stated over half of the “panic buttons” for the judges were damaged.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Eddie Arnold said he did not know anything about the button damage.

“Nothing has been referred to my office,” he said.

The panic button system was put in place to allow judges to press a button under their desks in case of an emergency in the courtroom. The button notifies law enforcement of a disturbance.

Alfred said the commissioners should know about these issues before they are announced to the public. When Alfred asked how many of the buttons were not working, Branick answered, “about half of them.”

Branick said workers cut wires that went to the panic button system during panel installation on the first and second floors of the courthouse.

Branick said the courthouse has been transitioning to a wireless system.

“Hopefully, that will get taken care of quickly,” he said.

“That’s not supposed to be talked about in open meeting,” Branick said after the meeting. “That is a closed meeting subject and that kind of information is not even susceptible to discovery under the Open Records Act.”