Visitors to the Dickinson County Courthouse will be screened for weapons when they enter the building starting Thursday morning, said County Administrator Brad Homman.

He said there is now only one entrance for visitors: the south doors.

“The whole purpose being to prevent a person from taking a weapon into the courthouse,” he said. “We hope the public coming in won’t be intimidated. We want this to be a pleasant experience. They should be welcomed in and see a smiling face.”

Homman said the procedure is not as intrusive as going into an airport. Most visitors will not have to take off their shoes or belts.

“Although the intent is pretty much the same,” he said. “We want to make sure someone doesn’t take a weapon into the courthouse.”

He said there have been some concerns about people with pacemakers.

“We are told that pacemakers are not bothered by metal detectors,” he said. “If you have a concern, just let staff know when you come in. They can use the hand wand and go around the metal detector.”

Jeff Parker with 1st Choice Security said the main concern is weapons.

“Whether it be knives or guns,” he said. “A regular pocket knife is okay. It is the large locking blade knives, Bowie Knives, something besides a normal pocket knife.”

He said if someone does bring in a weapon, lock boxes are available to store the weapon.

“While they are here, we will provide a safe place for them to store it or they can take it back to their vehicles and secure it,” he said.

A hand wand is also available for use.

Parker said the metal detector can be set at different sensitivity levels.

“We’re still working on the sensitivity level. It is very discriminatory,” he said.

The scanner can inform security which pocket the metal is in.

“It can disregard keys,” he said.

Cell phones and cameras, though not allowed in courtrooms, will be allowed inside the building.

Parker said the days there are jury selections and the last Friday of the month when patrons are renewing vehicle tags will be the busy times.

“We may have to add additional staff,” he said.

Employees, delivery personnel and others with badges will be allowed to enter the building without going through the metal detector.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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