Securing the Carter County Courthouse… Single-point entry goes into effect Monday for all Courthouse business

Published 11:53 pm Thursday, April 8, 2021

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If you are preparing to do any business at the Carter County Courthouse beginning Monday of next week, be prepared for a possible delay as a new security system is going into effect at 8 am on Monday morning to protect those inside the Courthouse.

Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby held a press conference on Thursday with local media to talk about the newly installed metal detector and x-ray machine that is state of the art and will bring a defense against someone who might be entering with the wrong intentions.

“Carter County Courthouse will go live on Monday morning with a single point of entry,” said Mayor Woodby. “We will have one entryway into the Courthouse and go through a metal detector and if you bring any bags they will have to be taken through the x-ray machine and checked.

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“We will have bailiffs here that will now secure our Courthouse. Once you enter into the Courthouse and do your business, you can leave out any exit in the Courthouse – you just can’t leave through this entryway.”

Woodby explained that the project had been ongoing for about two years but is now complete and ready to implement. The reasoning for the project was for the protection of the employees in the Courthouse, for the judges, the Chancellor, and for the Chancery and Circuit Court.

The Mayor said she understood that many will look at the new process as an inconvenience but it was necessary especially in the state the world is finding itself in.

“I know it’s going to be an inconvenience and I don’t disagree with that,” Mayor Woodby commented. “I also want to say that the less you bring, the less inconvenient it’s going to be. A small inconvenience doesn’t take the place of someone losing their life so that’s the way I look at it now. Unfortunately, that’s the time that we live in.

“This is looking out for our county employees and for those entering the building. This is looking out for them and looking out for myself. My office is located on the second floor and on the inside of my office, I don’t have a way out. If someone is in there with me and something goes wrong it could be a plausible situation.”

Mayor Woodby expanded on the importance of the project by adding that it’s uncertain times in the political environment to go along with the mental instability in the world its hard to know what could happen anymore.

“Even the smallest of arguments nowadays can turn into a complete disaster,” Mayor Woodby said. “So now being able to detect if a handgun or knife is being brought in, you can prevent those actions.

“I understand it’s not foolproof, but it helps because now we just don’t have anything.”

The project was funded through a grant called the Courthouse Security Grant which was a $500,000 grant. The project has been ongoing for two years but it’s completely grant-funded not costing the county anything.

The Carter County Sheriff’s Department was responsible for taking the training and providing the bailiffs to provide security for the Courthouse.

“We are excited to have it. We will start it Monday. So be prepared to wait in line to get into the building, but as we cycle through it won’t take as long to get into the building.”

Employees working in the Courthouse will have access to entry with badge passes and are responsible for making sure no one else enters the building when they do and to make sure the door locks behind them.

A camera system is also in place to monitor the building and one bailiff will also be walking throughout the building at all times.

Again, any exit can be utilized to leave but once the building is exited, the only way back in will be to go through the single-point entry door.

The single-point entry will provide access to the public to all services inside the Courthouse including the County Clerk’s office.