Recent visitors to the Lakewood Municipal Court may have noticed the added security.
People now entering the court and probation office, will now pass through a security screening that includes metal-detecting wands and an additional armed guard.
City officials and Judge Patrick Carroll are working together to finalize a plan for additional security measures in 2013.
“The safety upgrade plan for 2013 is still being discussed,” said clerk of the court, Terri O’Neill. “We are working closely with the administration.”
In addition to the new wands, the court hired the services of 33-year-veteran of the Lakewood Police Department, Jim Sacco, who will be paid $16 per hour for about 20 hours a week.
Judge Carroll said the city and court looked into the possibility of buying a full-size metal detector, but decided against it.
“Eventually we might make some structural changes, but we don’t want to buy one, install it and then find out that it won’t work,” he said. “And money is tight everywhere.”
Carroll stressed the importance of balancing the safety of those in the building with the easy and open access of city hall.
“We are the community forum for people to resolve disputes,” he said. “We want to be available but we don’t want to put up too many barriers.”
Judge Carroll and city officials hope to wrap up the 2013 budget by the end of the year.
“This is a good move,” said Lakewood Mayor Michael Summers. “I appreciate Judge Carroll’s thoughtful approach to this. It makes security better, but it keeps open access to the rest of city hall.”
Sacco, in his third month of his new gig, said there haven’t been any major safety concerns. Occasionally, he said, someone will forget that they have a knife in their pocket.
“We don’t have the walk-through detectors so this is what we use to ensure the security of the probation officers and the people who work in here," he said.