Different counties have different ways of dealing with weapons and other security threats at the courthouse.
Every one of the nearly half a million people who walks into the Polk County courthouse every year goes through security.
“We have an increased security at the door to make sure that people don’t come in with a weapon because you never know what their intentions may be,” says Lt. Brent Long with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
A metal detector and X-ray machine at both entrances are the first line of defense. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office also has anywhere from seven to 20 deputies in the courthouse at any given time.
“I’m actually very happy to go through the metal detector today,” says attorney Stephie Tran.
Especially after what happened Monday at the Madison County Courthouse. Tran was sitting next to her client, Cory Daugherty, when she saw him pull out a gun.
“I had no idea he was armed. Thank goodness Deputy Barnes happened to be in the courthouse. I think it would have been a whole lot worse had he not been there yesterday. So we definitely need the presence of armed deputies in the courthouse,” says Tran.
Visitors don’t have to go through security to get into the Warren County courthouse. Sheriff Brian Vos says he doesn’t have enough deputies to assign one to do courthouse security full-time. But since the jail is housed in the courthouse, there is always a law enforcement presence in the building.
There are safety measures in place. About 20 cameras are located throughout the courthouse
“We have panic buttons. We have them in our offices and at the bench,” says Judge Richard Clogg.
Clogg, who sentenced Daughtery, heads up the security committee at the Warren County courthouse. While he would feel safer with metal detectors and X-rays, it comes with a hefty price.
“It’s very expensive. The main cost is to man the detectors,” he says.
After what happened in his courtroom yesterday, Clogg sees it as money well spent.
“It’s a tragedy waiting to happen,” he says, “You hope it doesn’t take someone being physically hurt before something’s done.”