New security system in place at New Madrid County Courthouse

Thursday, August 10, 2017
Standing next to the new security scan system are, from left, Jim Darter, Courthouse Security; Mark Baker, presiding commissioner; Bobby Aycock, northern district commissioner; and Don Day, southern district commissioner. - Scott Seal photo

Some may think of going through an airport security system when they enter the New Madrid County Courthouse. In the south foyer of the courthouse is a new security body scan and desk that will soon be operational to get in the courthouse to conduct your business. The new body scan security system was announced last week by the New Madrid County Commission.

With the new security system, you will only be able to get into the courthouse is through the south side door. All of the other doors will be locked. The only way to get in is with a sliding key card, that only employees have.

“We have been thinking and planning on this for about six months,” said Southern District Commissioner Don Day. “We are looking into ways in making our courthouse employees and the public for that matter to feel safer when they are in court, or paying their taxes to getting their driving license.” “Offering folks a better sense of security,” said Day.

Presiding Commissioner Mark Baker, added, “We have seen on and heard through the media how several cities and counties have had someone come up the a clerk window or county and make threats with use of weapons.” Many think something like this will never happen here, but incidents have happened in Bloomfield, Benton and Caruthersville. That's close to home, Baker added.

The system will not officially begin until the first of August. However, there is still some re-arranging of furniture, installing new LED light fixtures and a protective top for the desk to allow for sliding brief cases, purses, and other items so they can be scanned with a electronic wand. “It may resemble airport security, but without the full body pat down,” noted Baker.

“Going to court can be a very emotional issue for many folks, and some folks like to use weapons to settle their differences. We want to stop that before it happens,” both Baker and Day said.

The estimated cost for the security system is around $12,000 plus the salary of the security officer.

“Once the system is in full effect, I think this new security system will be real efficient, said New Madrid County Sheriff Terry Stevens. “There are some folks that once they see what the set up is, they won't try to get into the courthouse. The main job is of course to keep people from smuggling things in the court house that may be harmful to others. It is a shame to have to go to something like this, but with this day and time, it is a necessity I believe.”

“I want to commend the commissioners for having the foresight and funding to do this, not only for the employees of the county courthouse, but for the rest of New Madrid County too.”

Manning the new security is Mr. Jim Darter. His official title is Courthouse Security, but he is a deputy sheriff. “He is fully licensed and trained just like myself and all the other employees. He has the powers of arrest, and he is very capable to handle that post,” said Stevens. Darter previously worked as a custodian for the Catholic church for many years, and has been a active member of the Alert team and a reserve deputy for several years.