Government Center begins weapons screening next Monday

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March 7, 2005 // UPDATED 1:52 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Scott Russell
Scott Russell

The Hennepin County Government Center will start mandatory weapons screening Monday, March 14, for all visitors going to floors 3-24 in the courts and administration towers.

According to a news release from Hennepin Country and the Fourth Judicial District:

The screening will take place in the atrium area (near the pool) on the public service level for the first three months. In mid-June, screening will move to the elevator lobby of each tower, freeing up the atrium area. Staff will evaluate the system after the six-month trial, to see how the two designs affect flow and security.

The screening is similar to that found in airports: people will put their bags, purses and briefcases on a conveyer belt and they will pass through an X-ray machine. Visitors will then walk through a metal detector and pick up their belongings on the other side.

People found with prohibited items - knives, scissors, razors box cutters or stun guns - will be given the option to remove them from the grounds or to dispose of them in a weapons disposal box.

People bringing in illegal weapons - knives more than 4 inches long, a gun without permit or explosives - would be arrested on the spot.

The screening will require approximately 11 nonsworn security officers and four Sheriff's deputies, said Robert Haight, security manager.

County employees with a current employee identification card and an access card will use a separate entrance that is exempt from weapons screening. County employees who do not work in the Government Center and don't have an access card will use the public line.

The court system plans to move more court services to the second-floor public service level, which won't be screened.

The Hennepin County Board approved Government Center weapons screening in December. It will evaluate the equipment and traffic flow and report in August, before permanent equipment is installed and walls constructed.

The county already has weapons screening at other facilities, including the Family Justice Center, the Public Safety Facility and the Juvenile Justice Facility.