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2015-8 Comprehensive Courthouse Security and Weapons
IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF NORTHAMPTON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
IN RE: ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER 2015-8 - ) NO.
COMPREHENSIVE COURTHOUSE )
SECURITY AND WEAPONS SCREENING )
AND NOW, this 4th day of November, 2015, after consideration of all various security studies and risk and vulnerability assessments provided to Northampton County and after consultation with the Northampton County Sheriff and the Northampton County Executive, the following Administrative Order is issued directing the Sheriff to provide comprehensive security to the Courthouse, Courtrooms, Judiciary, County Employees, Public Officials and all members of the public who seek access to the Courts or to the various county agencies while at the Northampton County Courthouse complex.
I. The Sheriff shall design and implement a weapons screening procedure for all members of the public who access the Northampton County Courthouse complex. In addition, the Sheriff shall design and implement a random weapon screening procedure for all public officials and county employees entering the Northampton County Courthouse complex to assure that there is full compliance with the provisions of this directive.
II. In accordance with Title 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 913, the Northampton County Sheriff’s Department shall be the sole law enforcement agency authorized to carry firearms within the Northampton County Courthouse complex.
The Sheriff shall post in both English and Spanish the underlying notice at all public entrances into the Courthouse/Government Center/Domestic Relations/Criminal Justice Center/Juvenile Justice Center Buildings. 18 Pa. C.S.A. 913(d). The notice shall state as follows:
IN ACCORDANCE WITH TITLE 18 (PENNSYLVANIA CRIMES CODE) FIREARMS AND OTHER DANGEROUS WEAPONS ARE NOT PERMITTED IN THIS COURT/GOVERNMENT FACILITY.
ANY PERSON ENTERING THESE PREMISES IS SUBJECT TO SEARCH.
(1) A PERSON COMMITS AN OFFENSE IF HE:
KNOWINGLY POSSESSES A FIREARM OR OTHER DANGEROUS WEAPON IN A COURT FACILITY OR KNOWINGLY CAUSES A FIREARM OR OTHER DANGEROUS WEAPON TO BE PRESENT IN A COURT FACILITY, OR
(2) KNOWINGLY POSSESSES A FIREARM OR OTHER
DANGEROUS WEAPON IN A COURT FACILITY WITH THE INTENT THAT THE FIREARM OR OTHER DANGEROUS WEAPON BE USED IN THE COMMISSION OF A CRIME OR KNOWINGLY CAUSES A FIREARM OR OTHER DANGEROUS WEAPON TO BE PRESENT IN A COURT FACILITY WITH THE INTENT THAT THE FIREARM OR OTHER DANGEROUS WEAPON BE USED IN THE COMMISSION OF A CRIME.
YOU MAY BE SUBJECT TO ARREST AND PUNISHMENT IF YOU ENTER THIS FACILITY WHILE IN POSSESSION OF A WEAPON.
PERSONS CARRYING FIREARMS UNDER SECTIONS 6106(b) OR 6109(a) OF THE PA CRIMES CODE MUST CHECK THEIR FIREARM IN A WEAPONS LOCKER LOCATED WITHIN. A LOCKER EXISTS FOR ALL LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL. PLEASE IMMEDIATELY NOTIFY A SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEE THAT YOU HAVE A FIREARM IN YOUR POSSESSION.
Any person entering the facility in possession of a weapon in violation of this section shall surrender said weapon to the Sheriff’s Deputy or other security personnel charged with the duty of enforcing the ordinance. Said weapon shall be secured and returned to the user when the user departs the building. A receipt shall be given to anyone who relinquishes a weapon. Any weapon not retrieved shall be subject to destruction or other disposition within fifteen (15) days of relinquishment.
The buildings referenced as the Courthouse/Government Center, the Domestic Relations Center, the Criminal Justice Center and the Juvenile Justice Center shall each constitute a “Court Facility” as defined under 18 Pa.C.S. 9123(f).
III. There shall be two means of ingress and egress to the Northampton County Courthouse/Government Center – the Rotunda Entrance and the Employee Entrance. All other doorways shall be secured by the Sheriff’s Department and available only for emergency access or as designated secure entrances for use by the Sheriff or the Judiciary.
IV. The Sheriff is directed to issue identification cards to all courthouse employees and other Northampton County public officials, who shall be permitted to enter the Courthouse/Government Center Building through the Employee Entrance on the east side of the Government Center or, through the general public Rotunda Entrance at the front of the Courthouse, as they choose. The Sheriff is also authorized to issue identification cards to attorneys and other persons whose principal business is performed within the confines of the Northampton County Courthouse Complex. The Sheriff shall, in conjunction with the Judiciary, develop and impose rules, regulations and fees related to the issuance and use of identification cards by non-county employees. The rules, regulations and fees shall be published to the general public.
V. The general public (all non-county employees who have not been issued identification cards) shall be required to enter the Courthouse/Government Center through the Rotunda Entrance, where each shall pass through a weapons screening procedure designed and implemented by the Sheriff. Persons with physical disabilities may enter the Courthouse/Government Center through either the Rotunda Entrance or the Employee Entrance, as is most convenient. However, such disabled persons shall be subject to the same weapons screening procedure as other members of the general public. Otherwise, entrance and departure through the Employee Entrance shall be prohibited to those who have not been issued a Northampton County identification card.
VI. Appropriate security personnel shall be present from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. daily to control access to the courthouse complex and to screen for weapons for visitors during other than regular business hours. Monitoring of the complex after 11:00 p.m. shall continue to be performed at the Northampton County Prison Control Center or by on-duty security personnel as the County Executive shall determine. Only public officials, county employees and members of the public attending governmental meetings shall be permitted in the courthouse complex at times other than regular courthouse business hours.
VII. The Sheriff shall design and implement a procedure whereby persons making deliveries through the loading dock communicate with the Sheriff’s control center to gain access. The Sheriff shall designate and implement a weapons screening procedure for delivery persons and for the items which they deliver.
VIII. The County Executive or the President of County Council shall have the authority to direct that members of the public attending governmental meetings in the courthouse complex after regular business hours may enter through the Employee Entrance.
IX. The Sheriff shall determine, in consultation with the Judiciary, courtroom security during courthouse business hours.
X. The Sheriff shall devise an appropriate security plan to provide security to the Judiciary when its members are in areas open to the general public within the Northampton County Courthouse Complex during courthouse business hours. The details of the security plan shall remain confidential.
XI. This Order shall not interfere with the authority the Northampton County Executive, the Northampton County Council or the Northampton County Sheriff to provide additional security as deemed appropriate to address the respective needs of their offices, the county employees or the general public; or otherwise, to provide other security measures in addition to those set forth in this Administrative Order.
XII. This Order is effective immediately and supersedes all prior Administrative Orders regulating security for the Northampton County Courthouse complex.
BY THE COURT:
STEPHEN G. BARATTA, P.J.
Created at 1/28/2016 3:49 PM by Vitek Gajewski
Last modified at 5/31/2018 9:23 AM by Vitek Gajewski
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Easton, Pennsylvania 18042
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