New security for the Yakima County Courthouse - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

New security for the Yakima County Courthouse

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YAKIMA, Wash- Thousands come to the Yakima County Courthouse on a daily basis to do everything from pay taxes to be tried for crimes, and all they have to do to get in is walk through the door.  Really anyone one can walk in there with anything at any time.

"At the moment, that's the case and that's what concerns us", says Yakima County Commissioner Rand Elliot.

Tuesday the county commissioners okayed a $230,000 security upgrade.  It includes new, more secure entrances for employees and the department of corrections, but most notably...

"All people who come through the courthouse will go through metal detectors so we're going to close a couple of entrances", says Vern Redifer, director of Yakima County Public Services.

The entrance on Martin Luther King Blvd., and on the south side of the building will become emergency exits. The general public will only be able to get in through the second street entrance. There they'll find metal detectors, and lockers to store any items not allowed inside.  This will likely lead to longer waits.

"The truth is they're going to be inconvenienced okay?", said Redifer with a smile.

He estimates the security line wait at five minutes, however at this point there's really no way to tell.  But the way the county sees it, better safe than sorry.

"I think it's a matter of trying to prevent something from happening so act in advance rather than react to an unfortunate incident", says Elliot.

The Sheriff's Office currently handles courthouse security.  They will continue to do so when the changes are implemented but their offices will relocated from the second floor to the first floor across from the metal detectors.  Redifer says they will be able to handle the new security without adding personnel

According to Redifer, construction should start May 1 and be done within two months.  The courthouse will be open as usual during that time. 

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