Memo about security in Rutherford County Buildings

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Above: Property Assessor Rob Mitchell behind his desk in Murfreesboro

After a recent theft of professional camera gear and commercial scanners from Rutherford County buildings in downtown Murfreesboro, the Rutherford County Property Assessor sent out the below memo...

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From Rutherford County Property Assessor Rob Mitchell:

Our building at 319 North Maple Street in Murfreesboro, which is shared with multiple County offices, was recently burglarized. While it can happen to anyone; as elected officials it is our duty to safe guard our citizens and our citizen's property.

My professional background prior to being elected Rutherford County Property Assessor in 2012 was in risk mitigation and insurance. So after taking a few weeks to get settled in, I noticed a glaring problem in our building. There seemed to be no internal controls as to who had keys to the building or to the offices. Also, there was no protocol set in place for returning county property from discharged employees. I immediately set in place protocols in our office to correct this problem with our current employees. But this still left a glaring hole. What about past employees, who had master keys and access to the building, and why was the building open before any employees were in their offices?

I am not a building security expert therefore I contacted a professional security company and requested they provide us with their professional recommendation as to what the minimum level of security would be for our office. The solution needed to also be cost effective and they provided me with their estimates which actually surprised me at the minimal cost to secure our building. The quote is still available should anyone be interested.

As Constitutional Officers the best way to describe our situation is that although we have our Constitutional duties to preform, we are tenants in this County and have little control of the infrastructure or our budgets. We prepare our budget each year and then it is up to the County Mayor and County Commission's discretion to fund these budgets.

In February 2013 using the security companies estimate, I prepared for our annual budget. The recommended security provisions were denied before it went to the county commission. Every year these and other requests have been made repeatedly for better security from every elected official at 319 N Maple St and they have been, for the most part, placed on a back burner or denied.

We now have had security breaches at the Justice Center, two break-ins at our building and vagrants found sleeping in our stairways. We now have had more money in equipment stolen than the original cost of our security measures that were requested in 2013. But we have been lucky, no one in our offices or the public have been hurt, equipment can be replaced but what about next time? What will it take to get something done? Do we have to have an active shooter or additional thousands of dollars of equipment or money stolen? We must have a professional security implementation and not a piecemeal plan haphazardly put in place.

The real question is - Why do we 'Close the stable door after the horse has bolted'.

You probably have never heard of the actions taken to protect what belongs to you by the elected officials. It isn't done for fame or glory it is done because it is what should be done. After returning over a million and a half dollars back to the County general fund, I have a proven record of being a good fiscal steward with our citizen's money. I take my responsibility seriously and I am proud to serve the citizens of Rutherford County as well as the elected constitutional officials with whom I serve.

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