Reduced wait times and greater safety for court employees are some of the reasons cited by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office to add a second secure entrance at the Hall County Courthouse.
A request to approve $57,459 in Sheriff’s Office funds for the second entrance was presented to the Hall County board of commissioners at a work session Monday, March 8, for a voting meeting Thursday, March 11.
According to the documents attached to the request, the county employees and the general public use the same lines at the Spring Street courthouse’s main entrance.
The Sheriff’s Office said the second entry point is on the bottom floor of the parking deck at the main courthouse. When it is operational, the department wants to open up the left side of the front entrance as a second lane when lines start to form.
Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derreck Booth said it is hard to quantify what the added wait times have looked like.
“What I can say is that when the courts were operating on a normal, pre-COVID schedule, there were lines to get into the building for business during peak times,” Booth said. “We do expect this project to significantly reduce any wait time at the main entrance as court begins to pick back up.”
The secure employee entrance needs to be upgraded and reworked to be a “true security checkpoint station,” Booth said. The entrance will have an enclosed and lockable screening area, an X-ray machine and a walk-through metal detector.
According to the documents from the request, the updated secure entrance “will help increase the safety of employees and judicial officials while at the same time reducing the wait time at the main entrance.”
“For example, a prosecutor might well be waiting in line to enter the courthouse while standing next to someone they are prosecuting,” Booth wrote in an email. “Victims or witnesses could potentially be waiting in line with the defendant in their case, etc. With the second entrance, simple arrangements can be made to keep parties with potential conflicts separated and safe for their day in court.”
Booth said the department has been “fortunate” in the past concerning safety at the courthouse “but being proactive is a must, and that is what this is about.”
According to the documents, bids were solicited from three local vendors, and two of them were not interested in bidding on the job.
Carroll Daniel submitted the bid that was accepted.