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LISBON Courthouse security becomes a priority



Published: Thu, September 20, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



County officials are considering creating a security station at the courthouse.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

LISBON -- Within about an hour of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, county commissioners reduced public entry to the courthouse to a single door.

In the aftermath of the catastrophic event, that security step will stay in place and others are being pondered, Commissioner President Dave Cranmer said Wednesday.

Efforts to improve courthouse security were under way even before the attacks, Cranmer said.

But the events last week in New York, Washington, D.C., and rural Pennsylvania add urgency to the effort.

Restricted entry: After the attacks, entry was restricted to the courthouse's Market Street entrance. A second entry, a back door off an alley, was locked.

A deputy sheriff was posted at the courthouse's front entrance for the remainder of Sept. 11. A deputy no longer stands watch, because the county can't afford the cost, Cranmer said.

But positive public feedback about restricting entry is prompting the county to keep the policy in place, he added.

The county may eventually alter entry into the courthouse again.

Officials are considering having the public enter a door now set aside for people with handicaps. That entryway also is off Market Street, but it is just below street level. The courthouse's main entry is atop about a dozen steps.

The handicapped entrance leads to a room where law books are stored. With the books removed, there would be space for a security station that could include a guard and metal detectors, Cranmer explained.

Basement: After passing through the checkpoint, visitors would have access to a basement level that includes restrooms, some county offices, vending machines and an elevator. Right now, the courthouse has a security station on the second floor, which is where courtrooms are located.

The station features a metal detector and camera monitors. It's staffed by a deputy sheriff, who also has courtroom security responsibilities.

The station could be moved to the handicapped entrance, enhancing security throughout the courthouse, Cranmer said.

But he emphasized that making such a decision would have to involve court officials.

leigh@vindy.com




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