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Metal detector in use here

| Friday, Oct. 26, 2001

KITTANNING - Since a metal detector was put in place Monday at the entrance to the county courthouse, sheriff's deputies have confiscated 40 knives, four box cutters and six rounds of ammunition.

"Security is beginning to tighten up here and it will tighten up even further," said Larry Crawford, Armstrong County Sheriff of added security measures in the county.

Crawford said the items were all legitimate, none were firearms, no arrests were made and that the items were stopped and temporarily locked up.

"We're just trying to make it safer for the public and for county employees," said Crawford.

According to Armstrong County Commissioner Homer Crytzer, in light of the Sept. 11 attacks a renewed interest in the security of government buildings has emerged.

"Government buildings seem to be the focus and the courthouse is where the greatest threat is now," said Crytzer. "We're at war and we'll operate according to war-time conditions."

Crytzer said the walk through metal detector along with an armed sheriff's deputy capable of making arrests would be there during the normal working hours of the courthouse. He said too that the courthouse annex would eventually have the same security upgrades as the courthouse.

The metal detector used to stop the entry of potential weapons at the front door of the courthouse is just one part of a proposed updated security plan by county officials.

Recently the board of commissioners who are in charge of buildings and grounds with Crytzer as security specialist, Chief Deputy Sheriff Frankie Shumaker, Crawford in charge of courthouse security and President Judge Joseph Nickleach met to draft the improved plan.

Crawford and Crytzer said other security measures in the plan include using hand held detectors, all doors will be locked except for the front door, video cameras will be installed in all necessary parts of the building, a command post will be maintained in the lobby complete with monitors, sheriff's department vehicles will be visible outside the front of the building and county employees will be required to wear their identifications badges at all times.

There is also a system in place instructing employees how to handle the sorting of incoming mail.

Crawford said that the county has hired two extra deputies.

"We didn't have enough staff," said Crawford. "The additional deputies will be used mainly to man the metal detector at the front door."

Crytzer had advice for anyone entering the courthouse.

"If you're honest and have no weapons you have nothing to worry about," said Crytzer. "No one who refuses to go through the detector will be authorized entry into the courthouse.

"You'll be arrested by sheriff's deputies (if caught trying to bring in a weapon). Try something and you'll find out."

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