County Plans To Improve Courthouse Security - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

02/25/05 - Angelina County

County Plans To Improve Courthouse Security

by Ramonica R. Jones

"The security measures at our courthouse are almost non-existent," attorney Joe Martin said.  "What we are is a tragedy waiting to happen.  We don't check anybody coming in.  People can bring anything they want to in this courthouse and we wouldn't know about it."

Joe Martin, a former judge, is concerned about courthouse security.  A portion of the money generated from court cases in Angelina County is supposed to be set aside to make the courthouse safer, but Martin says some of those funds are now being used to pay bailiff's salaries.  The rest is put into the county's general fund.  Instead, Martin would like to see that money spent on a state-of-the art metal detector, like the kind used in airports.

Martin said, "It certainly could cut that kind of thing down if people know that when they come to the courthouse, they're going to be searched.  We're not going to do anything here until a tragedy happens and then there'll be a great rush to do something; it ought to be taken care of before that happens."

For years, metal detectors have been one of the ways bailiffs keep you safe, but in a couple months, security measures in Angelina County will be more high-tech and more reliable.

"We have security measures within our courthouse and we're looking at some things, and have done some things, to secure the outside perimeter of it, but it's a difficult situation," said County Judge Joe Berry.

Right now, there are several entrances to the Angelina County Courthouse. Judge Berry says he's thought about cutting that number down to one.  That way, authorities can keep a closer eye on everyone whether they're in or out of the building.

There are four bailiffs at the Angelina County Courthouse; one for each courtroom.  All bailiffs are certified peace officers.  They get the same training as police officers.

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