Court security tightened in Eagle County
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE, Colorado ” Visitors to the Eagle County Justice Center must now go through a metal detector and their bags must be placed on an X-ray machine.
“It is just like in the airport,” says Sheriff’s Department Capt. Bill Kaufman. “You have to take off belts, shoes with metal shanks. It is an inconvenience; but an inconvenience for safety.”
The metal detector and X-ray machine have been idle for the past two to three years ” except for during high risk cases ” due to staff shortages, said Kaufman.
Eagle District Court Judge Frederick W. Gannett, who has worked in the building off and on since 1987, recalls the security equipment being put in place around the Kobe Bryant trial and a murder trial.
The county commissioners allocated money for the machinery and two jail employees to staff the security check point after Chief District Judge W. Terry Ruckriegle issued an order saying he didn’t want any weapons in the court house.
However, for the past few years, deputies were always in training or positions couldn’t be filled, leaving no extra deputies for the security post.
“Just within this last week we got the availability for one officer to come up and run this,” says Kaufman.
Court administrator Christine Yuhas says the Eagle County Justice Center previously did have “some measure of security.” Noting that cameras, locks on doors, and duress buttons have been in use for some time.
“What the security at the front does is ensure that people aren’t coming in with weapons,” says Yuhas. “It gives victims a better sense of security. The presence of a deputy is calming … we really appreciate having the deputies out there.”
Yuhas also notes the Eagle County Justice Center will have improved security after the justice center expansion and remodel is complete in 2010.
Gannett says that he can’t recall, what he termed a serious threat at the justice center. Nevertheless, he applauds the sheriff and the county commissioners for making security a higher priority.
“I can’t think of a single time that I have felt threatened,” said Gannett. “But it only takes one … Get it (security equipment). Pay for it. Hope you never use it.”
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