No plans for metal detectors at courthouse, Lauderdale says

Published 11:01 am Thursday, October 4, 2012

Supervisors have no current plans to add metal detectors to the Warren County Courthouse in response to a defendant pulling out a box cutter and attempting to stab himself, board president Bill Lauderdale said.

“There’s been no talk about that,” he said.

On Monday, deputies wrestled Anthony Terry, 21, 413 Galtney Drive, to the floor when he pulled a box cutter after Circuit Judge M. James Chaney ordered that he be held overnight in the county jail before his trial for statutory rape, Sheriff Martin Pace said.

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Terry entered a guilty plea Tuesday and was sentenced to five years in prison, Pace said. He was held in the Warren County Jail this morning awaiting transfer to a state correctional facility.

Judges and some employees of the courthouse have expressed interest in additional security, Lauderdale said, but the courthouse, which was built in 1940, was designed more for conven-ience than security.

“There are a lot of businesses that don’t scan people when they come in and we’ve got to watch just like they do,” Lauderdale said.

Deputies work in the courthouse as bailiffs and at judges’ discretion, and they sometime use hand-held metal detectors to scan people going into circuit court. Talk has been circulating for years about putting in walk-through metal detectors.

“It all boils down to money. Some of that stuff can get pretty expensive,” Lauderdale said.

Galls, one of the nation’s largest police and security supply companies, sells stand-up metal detectors for between $3,000 and $5,000, according to the company’s website.

Since 2009, metal detectors have served as a deterrent for bringing weapons into Vicksburg Municipal Court, said Chief Walter Armstrong. Everyone entering the courtroom is screened by an officer, and at least one bailiff is in the courtroom during court, Armstrong said.

“So many times, people do have evil intent and we don’t know those intents until they take action,” Armstrong said.

Police headquarters also is equipped with electronic locks and visitors are escorted or monitored in secured areas, he said.