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Security guards get safety boost thanks to donation

If you go to the Lee County courthouses in Keokuk and Fort Madison, you may notice that the security guards are not wearing bulletproof vests.

But that’s about to change. Security Guard John Symmonds said putting on a vest takes few minutes and can feel uncomfortable, but it’s worth it. 

"Prevents the bullet from going into your body," Symmonds said. "I’m sure there is still an impact that’s not pleasant but it will save you."

For the last four years, Symmonds has been in the North Lee County courthouse without a bulletproof vest.

But thanks to donors, he’s getting one to protect himself and the people.

"It makes you feel a little more confident," Symmonds said. "It’s not everything but it definitely makes you feel more secure."

Sheriff Stacy Weber said he and chief deputy Will Conlee knew the vests were needed, but they didn’t have money in the budget.

But, Monday, they received a $1,000 donation from the order of eastern stars to get three vests.

"It’s huge," Conlee said. "Sheriff brought up fact that they don’t have vest. We tend to forget they are in the public and the people at the courthouse at times are not happy."

Symmonds said he’s had close calls in the past and with all the shootings and attacks around he country this year, everyone has to be prepared whether there is a sign out front or not.

"We hear that it’s not going to happen here but it does happen or it can happen, absolutely," Symmonds said.

The sheriff’s office plans to do more safety improvements for years to come.

"We would like to have more boots on the ground and have someone at north, south, and at the county building," Conlee said.

The Sheriff said the vests will be ordered in a few weeks. 

Also, while the guards are armed, they do not have tasers and Weber said he’s looking to add those, as well.

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