Reaction Is Mixed On Court Security

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October 29, 1989, Page 12
The New York Times Archives
TOUGH new security features in use at the Hudson County Administration Building in Jersey City are drawing combined reactions from county personnel, lawyers and site visitors to the busy nine-story structure that includes the courtrooms and offices of 21 State Superior Court judges.

The new approaches, which consist of going thru a freestanding steel detector and mandatory searches of baggage, handbags and briefcases, had been all started because of a latest telephone risk upon the existence of one of the judges, officers said.

While the stepped-up security has brought on court cases about long waits in lines within the foyer, many be given the inconvenience as important to insure their personal protection and that of the judges and their staffs.

”It’s scary in this building,” stated Adele Starr, a clerk who has worked for the Special Civil Part of the courtroom for 17 years. ”I’ve seen safety guards take six-inch knives from humans down in that foyer. I think that is a wonderful idea.” Suspect in Custody

The new strategies have been started out Oct. Three, after Judge Elaine L. Davis acquired a telephoned death danger, officers said. Although a suspect within the case is now in police custody, officers stated, checkpoints and searches will continue.

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”We’ve been worried approximately protection for a while,” stated Burrell Ives Humphreys, Assignment Judge for Hudson County. ”We stay in an age while violence is increasing and drug trafficking brings many serious criminals into our court gadget.”

As a end result, Judge Humphreys said, he has appointed a judiciary safety committee to have a look at the situation and to make particular recommendations on how security may be improved. ”This constructing does have some extreme troubles,” he said.

The issues, he said, result from the fact that the constructing became never meant to be used as a courthouse. The building, firstly designed to comprise best administrative offices, became the county’s predominant courthouse while the antique one changed into closed extra than 25 years ago.

The vintage courthouse has for the reason that been reopened and now houses several county offices and nine Superior Court judges and their staffs. Securing that building, however, has now not been difficult. ”It become built to be a courthouse,” said the Hudson County Sheriff, Edward Webster. ”It has most effective one primary front for us to worry about.”

The Administration Building, however, with its 5 separate entrances, is hard to control safely, he said. Weapons Confiscated

Nevertheless, the checkpoint and seek machine at the primary front is proving effective.Officers have confiscated dozens of guns, like knives, brass knuckles and ice alternatives, from humans entering the constructing, Sheriff Webster stated.

”We’ve taken knives off legal professionals,” he said, at the same time as showing a massive container packed with the confiscated fabric. ”One legal professional stated it turned into a letter opener. I said, ‘You do not get your mail right here, do you?”’

Lawyers commonly advocate the tougher safety, however at the identical time some surprise about the felony implications of any such seek. ”It’s a touch bit intrusive,” said Jose L. Fuentes, a Union City lawyer. ”But it’s justifiable; it is higher than not anything.” And although legal professionals and county employees are normally moved to the front of the road, visitors can wait up to 15 minutes to attain the metal detectors.

”They must do something about getting this carried out a little faster,” stated Cindy Balko, 27 years vintage, who turned into scheduled to seem in tenancy courtroom. ”Besides, if anybody wants to are available in right here with a gun, they’re not going to come in via that manner besides.”

For now, Mr. Webster stated, all of us who enters through the primary entrance need to pass through the metal detectors. Identification Cards Issued

And in response to proceedings from personnel who said they had been losing time ready in line, the county is now within the process of issuing identification playing cards to employees and legal professionals who frequent the courthouse.

That would make Isabel Quiles, a county worker for the last 10 years, very glad. ”I simply do not adore it,” Ms. Quiles stated. ”A seek is one element, but going through your pocketbook is any other.”

When this system first began, she said, the sheriff’s officers confiscated a can of Mace that she had in her bag. ”I’ve been mugged two times,” she said. ”The Mace become for my personal protection.”

Mr. Webster stated that the policy on Mace had considering the fact that been changed. ”I’ve informed the officials to keep it on the front door and go back it to the person once they depart,” he said. ”I just do not need that stuff inside the building.”

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