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X-ray machine considered

June 06, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Metal detector operators in the Franklin County Courthouse Annex might not have to poke through purses, backpacks and briefcases in the near future looking for weapons and contraband.

Instead, they might be able to look right through them.

The Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday received and opened one bid for an X-ray machine similar to the types used at airports to screen carry-on luggage. The bid from Jep Poole of West Chester, Pa., was for $21,999 for an Autoclear 400+. The board will vote Thursday on whether to approve or reject the bid.

If the bid is approved, the county will be reimbursed for the X-ray machine through a grant from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, Sheriff Robert Wollyung said. AOPC money also is being used to update the duress alarms in the four courtrooms and other areas, he said.

The X-ray machine would be used alongside the metal detector and during peak times - such as during central court on Tuesdays, and sentencings and arraignments on Wednesdays - a deputy likely would work alongside the metal detector operator, Wollyung said.

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In addition to the handbags, briefcases and other items brought in by courthouse visitors, the X-ray machine could be used to check packages delivered to the courthouse, Wollyung said. Operators currently check visitors' belongings by hand for guns, knives and anything else that could be used as a weapon, he said.

The AOPC recommends that courthouse security measures include metal detectors, X-ray machines and duress alarms, Wollyung said.

"Plenty of times," the sheriff said when asked how often the courtroom alarms have gone off. Only a few times was there a need for deputies to respond to a potential emergency, he said.

Most of the alarms went off when they were bumped accidentally, he said.

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