PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County Courthouse is implementing new security measures that will require visitors to the second and third floors to go through a security screening and will add high-definition security cameras.
The county has budgeted $270,000 for the upgrades, but it is likely they will come in under budget, according to Mark McCauley, county director of central services.
“It won’t cost nearly that much,” McCauley said.
The most expensive upgrade purchased was a $31,000 walk-through metal detector.
The county also has ordered two hand-held metal detectors and 18 high-definition security cameras.
The cameras, and the equipment needed to store the recorded footage, cost only $5,000 according to McCauley, which was significantly under budget.
The security screening will be set up on the second floor of the courthouse. The second floor houses the district and superior courts and the county clerk.
The third floor, which houses the county Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the juvenile justice office, will only be accessible by key card, McCauley said.
All elevators in the building will stop at the second floor to ensure everyone goes through the screening.
Wireless distress signals also will be put up around the building to use in case of emergencies.
“We’d like to secure the whole building,” McCauley said. “Security has been an issue here for a long time. This was a cheaper and faster option while we work on a full building option.”
The county will be hiring at least three people to run the security checkpoint, according to McCauley. The county is currently looking to hire trained employees from a security company, but officials are still looking because they want to hire people who already live in the area, McCauley said
The county budgeted about $175,000 per year for staffing the security checkpoint.
This will be a more permanent solution than the measures implemented on an as-needed basis in 2010 during the first trial of Michael J. Pierce, a double-murder case from 2009.
The courthouse has set up a metal detector on the second floor during these kinds of high-profile trials, but usually the $5,000 metal detector is stored in a jury room.
McCauley said the security equipment has been ordered, but there currently is no arrival date. He said he hopes to have the equipment installed on the second floor within the next two weeks, or as soon as possible once the equipment arrives.