07/24/05 — Wayne courthouse will have metal detectors Monday

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Wayne courthouse will have metal detectors Monday

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on July 24, 2005 2:00 AM

Getting into the Wayne County Courthouse might take a little more time starting Monday because of newly installed metal detectors.

The machines are located inside the atrium area of the courthouse, near the entrance area. The metal detectors cost the county $11,000.

Sue Guy, human resource director for the county, coordinated the project, and said it was the first step in a multi-faceted security system.

Beginning in September, employees will gain access by using identity cards, and some exits will be barred from public use, she said.

"We have had a heightened awareness of security issues in the past few years," Ms. Guy said. "There has been some concern about people coming in with unauthorized weapons."

In March, a man convicted of stabbing and shooting another man, carried a switchblade with him during his two-day trial in Wayne County Superior Court.

The knife was discovered when Jimmy Parker, 46, of Courtyard Circle, was searched before being placed in the Wayne County Jail.

"He had walked around the courtroom and in front of the jury with a knife," District Attorney Branny Vickory said at the time. "This goes to show you that we need more security for the courtrooms."

Metal detectors have been placed at courtroom doors in the past, but were used only during high-profile trials.

Resident Superior Court Judge Jerry Braswell has pressed for improved security in the courthouse.

He told the county Criminal Justice Study Commission more than two years ago he wanted metal detectors at all entrances to the courthouse, the same standard required at federal courthouses.

County Manager Lee Smith said the world had changed since 9-11, and that "Wayne County was not immune to security issues."

"Many services are conducted in the Wayne County Courthouse involving very serious matters surrounding courts and judicial matters, and the Wayne County Board of Commissioners and staff, in consultation with the court system, feel it is imperative to protect the public through these security measures," Smith said.

Ms. Guy said the detectors in the courthouse would be manned and operated much like those in an airport.

"If you have anything that is considered a weapon, even a pocket knife or a nail file, you will be asked to return that item to your vehicle," she said. "We want people to know about this and not be surprised when they come to the courthouse on Monday."

Smith said he knew the metal detectors might be an inconvenience for the public.

"But we ask that they consider that this action is for their safety and security," he said.