$60,000 OK'd for camera fix at Regional Justice Center

Security concerns prompted the Clark County Commission on Tuesday to approve nearly $60,000 to correct flaws in the camera system at the Regional Justice Center.

Much of the money will be used to install nine new cameras outside the 17-story courthouse to make up for blind spots. About a dozen cameras currently keep watch over the building.

The unanimous vote follows a July 6 Las Vegas Review-Journal story that revealed obstructions outside the main entrance and at a parking lot across the street from a private rear entrance. Palms and other trees along the sidewalk also blocked some views of cameras mounted outside the Lewis Avenue main entrance. Cameras posted above the Clark Avenue parking lot, used mainly by judges, were blocked by a metal canopy.

Court officials initially denied that the obstructions threatened security at the well-traveled courthouse, but on Tuesday they acknowledged that improvements are needed.

"This was our recommendation to resolve any issues we believed may exist," Court Executive Officer Steve Grierson said. "We're recommending improvements to security all the time, and we're just glad the County Commission supported us in this effort this time."

District Judge Susan Johnson, who leads the building's security committee, added: "I am pleased the county has taken steps to ensure the safety of everyone who comes to the courthouse."

Three cameras will be installed at the county-owned Phoenix Building on the other side of the Lewis Avenue entrance, to be aimed at the Regional Justice Center to cover blind spots created by the trees.

Another three cameras will be placed under the metal canopy over the judges' parking lot. County landscapers this week eliminated one more security threat reported by the Review-Journal when they removed tall bushes lining a cement wall on each side of the parking lot entrance, eliminating a place to hide out of the view of the cameras.

The improvements include replacing fixed cameras, one at each entrance to the courthouse, with wider lens cameras that can cover larger areas. A camera will be added to the Casino Center Avenue side of the Regional Justice Center near Lewis Avenue.

Five more 46-inch monitors will be installed in the building control room so that marshals can view the new areas covered by the additional cameras.

The Regional Justice Center opened in October 2005 but was designed before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. After the attacks, the nation became more vigilant about protecting public buildings.

Las Vegas Justice Court, Municipal Court, District Court and the Nevada Supreme Court all are housed in the building. So are the offices of the city attorney and district attorney.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135 or read more courts coverage at lvlegalnews.com.