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New x-ray scanners up courthouse security

In order to improve security, Lincoln County Courthouse officials received new x-ray scanning machines. Now, officials can only wait until the machines are up and running.
Security employees work daily to protect the visitors, employees and inmates in courtrooms and offices, scanning and searching personal items, as well as confiscating paraphernalia.
The two Astrophysic x-ray scanning machines are waiting to be installed by Guardian, the county’s security team.
“We just have to wait on Guardian to come in and get them loaded and go,” said David Blackburn, Wackenhut Security site supervisor at the courthouse.
Currently, the machine at the north entrance of the courthouse is out of commission.
“They come in and fix it, it might work four hours then it goes back down,” said Jerry Ervin, Wackenhut’s assistant site supervisor.
The new machines will replace the old ones and are more sensitive, producing clearer images when x-raying bags and purses.
“These will be airport grade monitors,” Blackburn said.
Astrophysics, who manufactures the machines, faced a possible lawsuit from the county regarding the scanners.
“I think the company decided to go ahead and ship them out because of the lawsuit,” Blackburn said.
Officials are looking forward to working with the high-grade machines.
“It’s going to make scanning easier,” Blackburn said. “It’s more powerful and things will show up more clear. It will make a big difference.”
Security officials confiscate items from drugs to guns on a daily basis.
“Just yesterday we found a crack pipe,” Blackburn said Tuesday afternoon. “They bring it and ditch it outside the courthouse.”
As for apprehending any individual who ditched the pipe, officials could not catch the culprit.
“Somebody ditched it and no one came back to get it,” Blackburn said.
Visitors to the courthouse have the option to take their items, such as a knife, back to their vehicle or they can throw it away.
Blackburn said last year they confiscated around 3,062 pieces including everything from knives to screwdrivers.
A case in the courthouse lobby displays items confiscated, including brass knuckles, a sword, knives, crack pipes and lighters.
Blackburn said they have also confiscated drugs and paraphernalia from rock cocaine and marijuana to scales to weigh drugs.
“We check inside the cigarette packs,” he said. “They’ll have them in their cigarette packs or in a Skoal can.”
As far as inmates go, they do not go through a security checkpoint.
“They’ve already gone through all of that at the jail,” Blackburn said.
Plans are in the works to put inmates on a close circuit television system where they would not be transported to and from the courthouse.
“They won’t come into the courtroom, they’ll be on a television from the jail,” Blackburn said.
Other changes that come to the courthouse, which also affect the security department include moving around new and old offices.
The tax and register of deeds department are now located in the old Bank of America building across from the courthouse.
Vacant offices in the courthouse may be used to house clerk offices to make room for a fourth courtroom in April.
by Maribeth Kiser

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