Angelina Co. deputies start new security screenings at courthouse

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Employees and visitors ofthe Angelina County Courthouse will now have to undergo a security screening bypassing through a metal detector when entering the building.

The plan was firstapproved Sept.10, 2013 at the monthly commissioners' court meeting. The ideafor the courthouse metal detector is a joint effort between the sheriff'sdepartment and commissioners. The project added approximately $160,000.

County Judge Wes Suitersays that the cost is worth it when you consider past shooting incidents suchas the one at the Kaufman County Courthouse last February.

"With the way societyis going today and with some of the issues we are having around the nation,state and local courthouses, we need to do what we can to make sure our employeesand the public are safe when they come up here," Suiter said.

Everyone that enters the buildingwill be subject to the scans and a strict no weapon policy is being enforced bythe three deputies controlling the screening are, Joe Williams, Mark Champion andChristi Cochran.

"Even if they have a concealed handgun,that is not going to be allowed in the courthouse, as well as any type of knifeor any type of weapon," Sanches said.

Sanches also added that ifan item seems questionable, it is better to just leave it at home or in avehicle outside.

"It's going to be alittle inconvenient at first, but I think once people get used to it, they'llsee and recognize the need for it," Suiter said.

The scans came as asurprise to those entering the building on Thursday, but one resident said ifit keeps people safe it is worth it.

"You don't knowpeople's mindset this day and age so, yes I feel very comfortable with it,"courthouse visitor, Carl Kiel said.

Sanches also said that very soon theywill be posting signs listing items considered illegal in the courthouse as acourtesy to all visitors and employees.

Another part of the security upgrades will bea desk at the front that allows the deputies to view all cameras on theproperty.

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