Ste. Genevieve County Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson reported Thursday that a recent meeting of elected county officials turned into a “roundtable discussion” with Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff Gary Stolzer on courthouse security. Stolzer will be providing estimated costs on various security options.
Nelson also spoke to the Community Services Forum on April 10 about the security enhancements, announcing that the only access for the public will be through the Market Street entrance.
“A lot of you are going to be a little mad when you come to the courthouse and can’t come in from the east side, because we are going to do more security at the courthouse,” Nelson said. “We’re going to put body scanners in, where you walk in, if you have a gun or knife, it will show up.
“It’s a big step,” he added. “We’re doing it because we want to increase security.”
Nelson said individual bulletproof glass entrances for each office would not be sufficient, leaving the courtrooms and halls unprotected. He said it would be difficult to provide that type of protection for offices such as the Recorder of Deeds or Assessor based on how those offices are laid out compared to the County Collector’s Office, where bulletproof glass was installed over the service desk.
“You spend $30[,000] or $40,000 getting that [bulletproof glass] done [and] you still have no protection for the courtrooms … no protection for the judges,” Nelson said, referring to the second floor of the courthouse.
Nelson said some people come into the courthouse in a bad mood if they have to make a court appearance.
“We’ll get criticized for it,” Nelson said, “but in this day and age, people are so ridiculous with what they do in public, we’re not going to take any chances.”
While the Market Street entry will be manned with a deputy from the Sheriff’s Office and security scanners and X-ray machines, other doors on the east side of the building will only be accessible for entry by courthouse workers with identification.
Those who attempt to exit through those doors will find the door inactive for 10 seconds and alarm also will alert the deputy, who will be able to view activity at the door through a camera.
“It will take us a couple months to get this implemented,” Nelson said.
See complete story in the April 17 edition of the Herald.