Local News: Friday, February 16, 2018

State Supreme Court Rules Against Local Death Row Inmate

PENCER CO. — The Indiana Supreme Court has ruled against Roy Lee Ward, the Spencer County death row inmate convicted of raping and murdering teenager Stacy Payne of Dale back in 2001.

Tuesday, the appeals court issued a unanimous ruling, upholding a lower court’s challenge of procedures followed by the Indiana Department of Corrections when they changed their lethal injection protocol.

Ward’s lawyers argued the changes to how death row inmates are put to death violates his rights under the Indiana Administrative Rules and Procedures Act.

The state’s highest court ruled that the DOC’s lethal injection procedures do not constitute rules and are exempt from the rule-making restrictions under the ARPA.

Ward has been on death row in Michigan City since 2007, after being found guilty of the area teen’s rape and murder.

Spencer County prosecutor, Dan Wilkinson said this week, following the ruling, he’s pleased with the Supreme Court’s decisoin to uphold Ward’s death sentence.

No word on when his execution could take place.

Gov. Holcomb Orders Flags Fly at Half-Staff For FL Shooting Victims

STATEWIDE — Indiana governor Eric Holcomb has ordered all flags in Indiana fly at half staff through sunset Monday to honor the victims of the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida this week.

Government buildings already have their flags at half-staff in the wake of the tragedy, but the governor is also requesting businesses and residents do the same.

Warrick County Schools Increasing Security In Wake of Shooting

WARRICK CO. — School officials in Warrick County are re-assessing their safety plans in the wake of the Florida school shooting.

The school-wide safety team met yesterday to discuss ways to keep county schools safer.

WFIE-TV reports school safety officials agreed to implement extra security measures, Including allowing the safety teams access to security cameras in every building.  That could be helpful when police respond in an emergency situation.

The team also discussed logistics and reunification strategies.

Keeping Schools Safe After Florida School Shooting Kills 17

STATEWIDE — If you have children or grandchildren in school, you may be concerned about their safety after the shooting Wednesday by a 19-year-old accused of killing at least 17 at a high school in South Florida.

Indianapolis gun rights attorney Guy Relford, the host of “The Gun Guy Show” on 93 WIBC, says Indiana’s school leaders must answer three questions to ensure that its students and staff are safe and protected from any possible threats.

Relford says the first is threat identification:

“Are there procedures in place to identify those students or others who are a threat to a school based on things they’ve said based on what they’ve posted on social media?”

Second, Relford says schools must have a system in place to lockout those who may pose a serious threat:

“Are schools hardened? In other words, is it difficult to get in them if you don’t have the authorization or permission to get in that school,” says Relford. “We have look at security systems that keep threats out of the school.

Relford says the third focus for schools should be a reaction plan in case an active shooter or threatening individual enters the school building:

“Does that mean there’s an armed security guard there? Does that mean you’re going to arm staff that are trained and authorized to have guns on school property?

“Do kids know what to do in terms of the run-hide-fight progression? That is, get out of the school if you can, barricade and hide in place if you can’t get out of the school, and if necessary, to fight the threat,” says Relford.

According to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, state grants have been set up to provide matching grants to schools for hiring a school resource officer, conducting a threat assessment or buying equipment to restrict access to the school or expedite the notification of first responders. Those grants provide up to $50,000 a year for schools who have at least 1,000 students, while schools with less than 1,000 students are eligible to receive up to $35,000 for school safety.

Portion Of Lincoln Boyhood Visitor Center Closed Through Mid-March

INCOLN CITY — Parts of the Visitor Center at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial will be closed through mid-March to allow for the removal of asbestos, this from our media partner, Matt Crane with the Dubois County Free press.

The memorial, located in nearby Lincoln City, is preparing to install a fire suppression system in the future, and need to get the asbestos removed from the ceiling before work can begin.

All areas of the visitor center between the two Memorial Halls will be closed for visitor safety.

The two halls WILL remain open, however.  You’ll still be able to view the orientation video, temporary displays and stamp your park passports, or just take a hike on the trails.

The visitor’s center was built back in 1943.