Visitors to the Kenai courthouse will be greeted by a rather ominous sign of the times beginning this fall.
Just as visitors to big-city courthouses in other Alaska municipalities, everyone arriving at the main entrance in Kenai will be required to pass through a metal detectors, similar to the ones at major airports.
"They should be up and running by Oct. 1," said Doug Wooliver, administrative attorney for the state's court system based in Anchorage.
In addition to the metal detectors, the courthouse on Trading Bay Road will have contract security guards at the entryway metal detectors, will get package screening equipment and will get a new card-key system for court employees to use at all exterior doors to the building.
"Currently employees use a card key when going from room to room inside the building," Wooliver said. "We hope to incorporate the system for all external doors it will depend on the cost of the contract."
When asked the reason for the new security measures, Kenai Administrative Judge Harold Brown said, "I think it's just an increased awareness of the potential for someone who's angry or disappointed with the (court) system to do mischief."
He said the intent is to protect court employees as well as others who have an interest in the court.
The judge did not anticipate any delays for people entering the courthouse, but said, "We'll have to wait and see."
Wooliver said the Alaska Legislature appropriated $500,000 for security-related capital expenses at courthouses in Palmer, Juneau and Kenai, and $150,000 for operating expenses.
Of that amount, $50,000 will go to Kenai for capital equipment and $75,000 for operating expenses, including the security guard contract.
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