CROWN POINT | City Judge Kent Jeffirs wants for his courtroom what most other courtrooms already have: a metal detector.
Jeffirs conducts city court Tuesdays in the third-floor courtroom of the Old Lake County Courthouse, presiding over a caseload of traffic offenses, criminal misdemeanors and other matters.
A walk-through metal detector wasn't in the building plan when the courthouse was constructed in 1878, and the courtroom never acquired the device or a metal-detecting wand.
"Right now, we do not have anything," Jeffirs said. "Granted, we're one of the safer areas around, but it only takes one incident."
The courtroom and adjoining clerk's office have direct monitoring by the Police Department, just blocks away, Jeffirs said.
"But given the times we're living in, it's time to step that up," he said.
Jeffirs said he delayed his appeal for the added safety measures during prior years of tight budget constraints but felt the timing was right this year. He approached the City Council last week as officials begin to decide the 2014 budget.
Funding will be sought for both a second bailiff to help provide security in the large courtroom and for either a walk-through or hand-held metal detector and some glass-shield protection, Jeffirs said.
Jeffirs said he'll look for alternative sources other than city tax dollars to help fund the security measures, including the possible use of some court fees.
The measures are for protection of courtroom staff and for the public, Jeffirs said.
"We have to never compromise the safety of people," he said.
Jeffirs said he plans to approach the Lake Courthouse Foundation, which oversees the Old Lake County Courthouse, about the security measures.