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New Security Measures for Watauga Courthouse PDF Print
Written by Steve Frank   
Wednesday, 31 August 2011 05:15

Starting next Tuesday entering the Watauga County Courthouse will be a different experience.  That’s the day new security measures will be fully implemented at the King Street Courthouse, and it will mean changes for the general public and those that work in the courthouse, as well.

Chief Resident Superior Court Judge Phil Ginn outlined the sequence that will lead to new court security, "That time was chosen because number one we wanted to have everything functional before we put anything up--we didn't want to do it piecemeal--we wanted to have it done all at once because we want to make the public aware of what we're doing to give them some advance notice of the changes they're going to see when they come to the courthouse."
Starting Tuesday morning, 8am, there will be only one entrance—and exit—for the general public—the lower King Street entrance to the courthouse—and there will be a manned electronic security station there, according to Sgt. Richard Aldridge, bailiff at the courthouse, "The first thing that's recognizable as you come to our courthouse is going to be our the new metal detector that's been installed out here.  That front entrance...the decision has been made to use one entrance to enter our courthouse for the public." And don’t plan on coming to court with your cell phone, according to Aldridge, "Cell phones are going to be prohibited and banned from all courtrooms in this courthouse." "Judge Ginn has made the directive that they're to be banned from all courtrooms and we're certainly going to enforce that ban strictly."
Next week’s light court sessions and the short week will give the Watauga Sheriff’s Office—ultimately in charge of court security—time to work out any bugs in the system, which includes new video surveillance and a host of other measures. Special plans are in place for those with special physical needs to access the courthouse for their business, according to Aldridge, with communications available at other entrances to the court for those circumstances.


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