The Utah County Commission has agreed to establish a secured parking area at the new Utah County Regional Government Center - something state officials say is needed to protect the public from exposure to criminals and allow officials quick access to their vehicles.

The secured area, with its own entrance and exit, likely will eliminate some parking spaces currently open to the public.Because prisoners and potential parolees frequently appear at the Adult Probation and Parole offices in the state building, a secured parking area near the state building is badly needed, commissioners were told Wednesday. Jack Quintana, assistant director of the state department of administrative services, said a secured parking area will lessen the risk of public exposure to danger from prisoners.

"We, as of the last few years, have become particularly sensitive to this issue," Quintana said. "We have been discussing secured parking on that first level (of the government center parking lot) for a very long time."

Commission Chairman Malcolm Beck said state and county officials should have resolved the issue several months ago. He agreed that a restricted parking area should be established.

"There's nothing here that can't be solved," added Commissioner Gary Anderson.

Quintana said state officials were reminded Tuesday night of the need for secured parking when a parolee accosted a parole officer in the government center parking lot. He said state officials want to minimize the opportunity of similar or worse incidents happening to the public.

"Because of the nature of the clientele they (AP&P) serve, and the dangerous and unpredictable nature of the criminal offender, all care and precaution should be taken to prevent escape or high exposure to the public," Quintana said in a letter last week to Commissioner Brent Morris.

In addition, he said, delays must be avoided in transporting parolees and prisoners to and from the center. The secured area should be on the parking terrace's lower level, allow officials quick access to their vehicles and should protect cars from possible vandalism, Quintana said in the letter.