Courthouse security to be finalized

TROY — The Board of Miami County Commissioners held a meeting/work session Wednesday to discuss the official implementation of security checkpoints at the courthouse and safety building and to obtain comments from county personnel.

Sheriff Dave Duchak introduced a document of protocol outlining the anticipated changes to security within the two buildings. He said any feedback from county officials and employees is welcomed.

The document states staffed security screens will be added to the main entrances of the safety building and courthouse.

Access to the safety building will occur on the plaza side of the safety building (west side entrance). Safety building employees will also be able to access the building from the parking lot side (east side), however, the public will not be able to enter from this side.

Public and employee access to the courthouse will also occur on the plaza side of the courthouse (east side entrance).

Initially, according to Duchak, the west side entrance of the courthouse was going to be accessible only for the two judges and magistrate to gain entry.

Judge Gary Nasal, in attendance Wednesday, raised concerns that not all court employees would have access to this west side entrance. He expressed this decision neglected the safety of these employees when entering the building.

“I don’t think you guys looked at this correctly,” Nasal said. “What you’re doing is, at 8 o’clock in the morning, forcing our employees to be mashed into a pot with all of our clientele. We’ll have anywhere from 50 to 150 people coming through that door on Wednesday morning along with our employees.”

Nasal added that many court employees park in the lot closest to the west side courthouse entrance.

“The amount of time in which (the employees) are required to be exposed, walking from the distant parking around to the courthouse (east side) entrance, is pretty extensive,” he said. “I don’t want to make it safe for the judges and not for my employees; I want to make sure they’re safe, as well. I’d ask you to reconsider.”

In response, Duchak noted the plan to keep the west side entrance of the courthouse closed to all but judges and magistrate was due to the fact that only the east side entrance has been set up to have deputies stationed, along with magnetometer and X-Ray machine, to monitor those entering the building.

In the safety building, deputies stationed on the west side entrance will be able to easily monitor both east and west side entrances thanks to the smaller layout and proximity of the building’s main entryways, Duchak added.

Nasal suggested the possibility of stationing a bailiff at the west side entrance of the courthouse during high-traffic times throughout the day if it would allow for employee use of that door. This would keep from requiring additional deputies to be positioned in this location. The need for monitoring is to assure only employees are entering the west side entrance, not the public.

County IT director Matt Watkins said safety turnstiles were initially to be added to both east and west entrances of the safety building, along with the east side entrance of the courthouse, only. These turnstiles are to allow employees to bypass security screens by swiping a card to enter through the turnstile, however, it was noted that all county employees may be subject to random screens at any time.

All non-county employees will be screened through the magnetometer, with all articles screened through an X-Ray machine, without exception. The public will undergo these screens, as well, to enter both buildings.

Watkins acknowledged the addition of a turnstile to the west side entrance to be a sensible solution to Nasal’s concern, with Duchak and the commissioners having no objection.

Duchak said input is welcome through Monday, after which official protocol will be released to employees. A “start date” for these security features is expected to be announced by the end of the month. Signage will also be added around the courthouse to assist in directing foot traffic.

By Aimee Hancock

Miami Valley Today

Reach the writer at ahancock@aimmediamidwest.com. © 2020 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.