County purchases metal detectors, X-ray machines for courthouse

John Richmeier

For now, most of the Leavenworth County Courthouse is open by appointment only because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But county officials plan to eventually have two public entrances that are open and monitored by members of the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office.

The Leavenworth County Courthouse houses offices for the county government.

Prior to the pandemic, doors to the courthouse typically were unlocked during normal business hours and people could enter without appointments.

County commissioners took a step toward a new security plan for the courthouse earlier this week when they approved the purchase of two X-ray machines, two walk-through metal detectors and two handheld metal detectors.

“This will create two secure entrances to the courthouse, closing the other entrances for public entrance,” said Aaron Yoakam, buildings and grounds superintendent for the county.

He said an entrance that is compliant Americans with Disabilities Act regulations will be one of the two secure entrances.

While security equipment is being purchased now, the courthouse will not have the two secure entrances until next year.

Money has not been budgeted for the new security staff until 2021. The security staff will be members of the Sheriff’s Office.

Yoakam said the security equipment being purchased is comparable to equipment already in use at the Justice Center.

Located across the street from the Leavenworth County Courthouse, the Justice Center houses courtrooms, the Sheriff’s Office, the Leavenworth Police Department and offices for other agencies.

County Administrator Mark Loughry said a discussion about creating secure entrances for the Leavenworth County Courthouse began a few years ago.

The new X-ray machines and metal detectors are being purchased at a cost of $57,158.

Loughry said money made available as a result of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act will be used to pay for the equipment.

He said the county also will be purchasing thermal temperature scanners. He said this equipment will be purchased through another federal funding source that was secured by the Leavenworth County Health Department.

Salaries for the deputies who work at secure entrances will be paid for out of the county’s general operating budget.

Commissioner Mike Stieben said “it’s too bad that our society has got to the point where these type of security measures are necessary.”

“It’s probably going to get worse,” Commission Chairman Doug Smith said.

Commissioner Jeff Culbertson said he previously had wanted to hire someone to operate an information desk at the courthouse and direct visitors to where they needed to go.

Culbertson said having security staff in place will accomplish this goal in a roundabout way.

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