Courthouse Metal Detectors Finally Activated - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

07/25/05

Courthouse Metal Detectors Finally Activated

To get to the second floor courtrooms in the Gulfport courthouse, you must now pass through manned metal detectors.

Monday was the first time the devices have been used, even though the equipment has been installed for nearly three years.

The Harrison County Supervisors have discussed many times beefing up security in both courthouses. But it wasn't until the fatal Atlanta courthouse shootings in March that the supervisors decided they needed to get serious.

When WLOX News stopped by the courthouse on Monday, people were emptying their pockets, some even had to take off their belts to successfully pass through the new metal detectors. No one seemed to be inconvenienced and most people we talked to said it was very thorough.

"It was and it's a good thing because if it wasn't you never know what would go upstairs. Especially with everything going on these days, you never know," one man said.

"I think it's probably a good thing. That way if someone's trying to get by with something that they really don't need to have, it will be here," another woman said.

Four guards are on duty throughout the day. The equipment is similar to what you find in airports and other courthouses.

The attorneys who are routinely in and out of the building say in today's society, the extra precautions are necessary.

"With all the problems that you see nationwide with acts of violence in the courthouse, by not only litigants, but by members of their family, I think something like this is really important. I think it's long overdue," Gulfport attorney Joe Sam Owen said.

Tuesday, the detectors will be turned on in the Biloxi Courthouse, as they will throughout the week in Youth and Justice Courts. All county employees with photo identification and law enforcement personnel are exempt from going through the detectors.

The county is spending $329,000 a year to Swetman Security to provide the security.

byMarcia Hill

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