By: Julie Montanaro
November 26, 2013
Tallahassee, FL - A visit to the security checkpoint at the Leon County Courthouse will soon feel more like a visit to the security checkpoint at the airport. Except you can keep your shoes on.
A new policy goes into effect when the doors open Monday to crack down on knives, scissors and other potentially dangerous weapons.
Stick around this checkpoint long enough and it's bound to happen. Someone has a pocketknife in their pocket or a pair of scissors in their purse.
"I think most of the time people really do forget," said Deputy Eric Jakubowski.
Right now, deputies confiscate the items and issue a receipt. Folks can then pick them up when they leave.
Starting Monday, however, folks coming to the Leon County Courthouse with everything from pocket knives to screw drivers will have to turn around or give them up for good.
"Any sharp items whatsover, leave them in the car because you will be sent back to your car, or you'll have to dispose of the item and they will not be returned," SGT Tim Lawrence said.
An LCSO spokesman says issuing receipts eats up valuable time especially on busy days when up to 16-hundred people come through the checkpoints on Monroe and Calhoun Streets.
"Screw drivers...brass knuckles...bullets," Jakubowski said he has seen it all in the past year. The woman with brass knuckles was arrested.
So far this month, deputies have seized 279 weapons and sharp objects.
One man forgot all about a plastic knife in his wallet. The thought of having to go back to his car - especially in the rain - is not appealing.
"I don't think its necessary to take it back to your vehicle, I think that they've been doing this for years like this and I don't know why they've changed," Chris Compton said.
"Those items ought to be kept out of the courthouse for good reason," attorney Marilyn Morris said, "and to keep track of the items that shouldn't come in, I think that's a burden that they shouldn't have to deal with."
The new security policies were authorized by the sheriff and the chief judge.
Press Release: Leon County Sheriff's Office
Due to heightened security protocols established for the Leon County court system, effective December 1, 2013, the Leon County Sheriff's Office will no longer seize and temporarily hold weapons or sharp
objects at the public entrance security stations. Persons having weapons or sharps in their possession will have one of two options.
1. Return the weapon/sharp to their vehicle for safe storage.
2. Discard the weapon/sharp in the trash container at the door.
During the remainder of November 2013, Bailiffs will be reminding courthouse visitors of the coming change. LCSO asks all visitors to leave any weapons or sharp objects at home or in their vehicle when visiting the courthouse. Please allow ample time to undergo the weapons screening process at the Leon County Courthouse.
Florida Statutes defines weapons as any dirk, knife, knuckles, slungshot, billie (club), pepper or chemical devices, or any other deadly weapon. Sharp objects are defined as box cutters, ice picks, razor blades, scissors, screw drivers or other tools.
Both Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell and Chief Circuit Judge Charles A. Francis appreciate your understanding the necessity for these security enhancements and procedures.