HELENA — Beginning Wednesday Nov. 4 there will be new security procedures at the Lewis and Clark County Courthouse.
The installation of new $80,000 security equipment has been completed and new staff are ready to go. The new system includes a metal detector, a baggage scanner and new cameras.
The County has also retained three Securitas officers for $236,000 a year that will work at the courthouse and work the security station.
Sheriff Leo Dutton says the project has been in the works for years, and it will be a great improvement for the building and employees.
“What we hope is that people will understand that the people that work here, the employees have a right to be safe,” said Dutton. “The other thing is that for the public that comes in, it’s a minor inconvenience not to bring in weapons.”
The east door access by the Myrna Loy is now the only main entrance for the public. Mobility impaired individuals will be able to use the west entrance that connects to the elevator. They’ll only be able to initially go to the first floor so they can check in with security. Once cleared, security can then get them access to other parts of the building.
Everyone will need to go through a metal detector and have any bags scanned as well.
The scanner is also capable of detecting illegal substances.
“Please don’t bring any drugs, anything like that. If you are sentenced and taken to jail, that just adds to your sentence. Please don’t do that,” said Dutton.
Items prohibited from being brought into the courthouse include: knives of any kind, tear gas, mace, pepper spray of any kind, any animal repellent like bear spray, firearms of any kind, ammunition of any kind, tools of any kind (unless an authorized maintenance worker or contractor for the courthouse), alcohol, glass containers, any flammable substance, lighters, laser pointers, handcuffs or restraints (unless authorized), skateboards, skates or excess clothing beyond what is reasonable for personal use and current weather conditions.
Staff recognize that there will be honest mistakes, like a lighter or utility knife left in the pocket.
If a prohibited item is found that isn’t illegal to possess, the individual will be asked to go put it in their car and then get screened again.