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New camera strengthens courthouse security
Entrance monitor helps people feel safer
A new monitor shows security personnel at the Hall County Courthouse the entrance doors and the walkway leading up to the front doors.

Security at the Hall County Courthouse was enhanced a few months ago with a new monitor at the entrance, officials said.

Roger Tapia, sergeant in the Court Services division of the sheriff’s office since 2008, said the front, public entrance monitor fills a need.

“This camera really fills what was a ‘blind spot’ before, so to speak,” he said.

While the civil employees — noncertified sheriff’s deputies — check people and assist them through the process, clearing them to enter the courthouse, the deputies behind the scanner can monitor people before they step inside.

“Any time we have a situation where the district attorney’s office has communicated to us a person who might pose an elevated security risk, someone to look out for, so this helps us to know in advance before that person comes in the building,” Tapia said. “We get a lot of feedback from the district attorney’s office to monitor potential threats, and this helps us be more proactive.”

District Attorney Lee Darragh said he welcomes any measure to bolster security.

“Since a courthouse can often be a place of intense conflict and high emotion, any security enhancement that can help the public and courthouse employees feel safe while visiting the building is a welcome change,” he said.

The office keeps count every day of the number of people coming in, and that number can reach 2,000 on busy days, Tapia said.

The cameras also allow an extra eye on people who may look by appearance alone like they have something to hide, he said.

“If somebody was to be coming in a trench coat, for example, it gives us plenty of time to be prepared for the worst,” he said.

Court Services Capt. Chris Matthews said there have been two arrests for bringing firearms into the courthouse since the building was established.

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