KENNEWICK -- An upgrade to the security cameras at the Benton County Justice Center is being considered in the wake of a suspicious device made to look like a bomb left May 14 outside the Kennewick building.
A security consultant group is expected to complete an assessment at the justice center to determine what new security systems should be installed, said Melina Wenner, the county's personnel/risk manager.
The justice center houses the Benton County jail, sheriff's office, Superior Court and District Court, and other county offices, including the clerk's and prosecutor's offices. But no cameras record the parking lot or areas outside the building beyond the entrances.
"We have some on the outside perimeter, but nothing that really addresses the parking lot," said Benton County sheriff's Lt. Chuck Jones. "They're looking to revamp the entire facility, both inside and out."
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The move to broaden the security systems began after a package made to look like a pipe bomb was found outside the building during an informational picket by breast-feeding moms and supporters for family friendly jury duty.
The device looked like a bomb, but there were no explosives in it. Investigators found it was packed with nuts, bolts and screws after the Richland Bomb Squad blasted it with a water cannon.
Benton County sheriff's Lt. Chuck Jones said pieces of the device were collected as evidence and sent to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab for testing. No suspects have been identified in connection with the incident.
Wenner said once the assessment is finished, a plan and a cost estimate will be presented to the county commissioners to review.
Commission Chairman Jim Beaver has indicated he supports the effort to add cameras outside and upgrade the justice center's security.