A couple of recent incidents brought to light a surprising piece of information about the Benton County Justice Center -- there aren't any security cameras in the parking lot.
And there aren't any on the exterior of the buildings other than at the entrances.
That makes no sense.
The very nature of the justice center would make most of us think security cameras would be everywhere on the campus.
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At its core, it is a center of discontent. People visiting the Okanogan Place campus in Kennewick are usually dealing with challenges -- custody battles, divorces, criminal charges -- stressful situations that tend to make people unhappy and even irrational at times.
Oh, and the jail is also there. People have been known to escape from jails, after all. It would be logical to have cameras out where the getaway car might be parked.
People who break the law have been known to do it again, and without much forethought, say maybe in the parking lot of the jail.
People coming out of court have also been known to leave angry, when it might seem like punching an inanimate object like a windshield on their way through the parking lot would help alleviate some frustration.
Finally, thanks to a dud of a bomb -- the discovery of which happened following a protest last month -- the justice center may just get an upgrade to its security system.
A consultant is expected to give a report on what should be done to upgrade the security cameras with a proposed plan and costs for the commissioners to review.
The cameras certainly would have been of use in other incidents, including a case of a vehicle stolen from the parking lot in April while its owner was in court finalizing her divorce.
Commissioner Jim Beaver already has said he supports an upgrade to the justice center's security system, including cameras in the parking lot.
Living under the eye of security cameras is a fact of life in today's society. And in many crimes, the footage is instrumental in catching the perpetrator. It's a lot easier to get the public to help identify a crime victim or a criminal when there is video of the incident.
Security cameras also help establish crucial timelines in disappearances or kidnappings. And the footage can help exonerate the innocent and prosecute the guilty, helping the justice system along its path.
We're still baffled by the fact that there aren't more cameras outside the jail and courts. Cameras are so commonplace, we hardly notice them anymore. But if you look closely, you'll see them in restaurants and bars and on the outside of all manner of buildings, from health care facilities to manufacturing plants. People even install dummy cameras just to give the illusion that the site is being monitored -- that's how big of a deterrent cameras can be.
Let's hope the review and consultant's report move more swiftly than most things through government channels. Even though the device recently found outside the justice center didn't contain explosives, someone went to the effort to build it and place it. He or she wanted to send a warning at the very least.
Security footage would have been a great help in identifying whoever placed the device outside a building filled with judges, attorneys, elected officials, government workers and the public.