You Asked: Why do some people get to go around the security system at the courthouse?

Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputies Roberto Nochebuena, left, and Jason Kelly man the magnetometers (MAGS) at the courthouse Thursday afternoon. While everyone is required to pass through the security system, there are exemptions for law enforcement personnel, known attorneys and courthouse employees. (Chanda Veno/State Journal)

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Court Security Policy states that all individuals are required to have their belongings X-rayed and pass through the magnetometers (MAGS) to enter the Franklin County Courthouse. However, there are exemptions.

“For the most part, people who work here, lawyers and people we know can go through,” said Deputy Jason Kelly, who along with Deputy Roberto Nochebuena, was manning MAGS on Thursday afternoon.

Sworn law enforcement officers also are not required to pass through the security system.

Included in the FCSO security policy is Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd’s take on exemptions.

“The security staff will retain the discretion to require any attorney (or employee) to go through the scanners if there are reasonable grounds for suspicion that a weapon or other contraband is on their person or in their baggage,” he wrote, adding that deputies also have the authority to require a more thorough search of anyone who enters the building. “But they are authorized to treat attorneys in the same manner as we treat court employees.”

Deputies are trained to look for certain items, such as weapons, that cannot be taken into the courthouse. The policy defines weapons as knives, razor blades, box cutters, bullets, mace, pepper spray, clubs, karate sticks and artificial knuckles, among others.

Other contraband includes skates, skateboards, bicycles, protest signs, animals, alcoholic beverages, handcuff keys and any item that poses a threat to security.

Kelly and Nochebuena said they make sure everybody who is required to go through MAGS does. Just three days into his tenure as sheriff, Chris Quire is still working out wrinkles.

“We spent like $30 million on the courthouse, so we want to make sure we’re using it properly and it’s secure,” he said.

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