New security procedures go into effect on Monday
Starting Monday, visitors to the St. Charles Parish Courthouse will have to access a single entrance where they will be screened by a metal detector and have personal baggage X-rayed.
The security changes are the result of a mandate by the Louisiana Supreme Court that required each judicial district throughout the state to improve security at courthouses. The local panel that came up with the security upgrades was headed by Judge Emile St. Pierre and included representatives from the Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, Parish President V.J. St. Pierre, Clerk of Court Lance Marino, Assessor Tab Troxler and Registrar of Voters Brian Champagne.
Members of the public will have to access the courthouse using the front lobby doors on the side of the building closest to the sheriff’s tax office. All patrons will be screened at this location via metal detector, and all personal baggage will be X-rayed for prohibited items such as illegal narcotics, firearms, knives, scissors, carpet or box cutters, letter openers or other edged weapons.
No one will be allowed through the other secured courthouse entrances unless in possession of a properly functioning ID badge. Those ID badges will be used by essential personnel and courthouse employees.
In addition to increased security at the courthouse entrance, cameras will monitor all public lobbies and exit doors.
“With the advent of this new security infrastructure, the St. Charles Parish Courthouse is moving in line with others around the greater New Orleans area,” Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said. “Many individuals from various departments and agencies based within the courthouse came together to ensure a smooth implementation, and we are looking forward to a safer and more secure building.”
Individuals found with items that would otherwise be legal to carry, such as small pocketknives and pepper spray, will not be allowed entry with the items in their possession. In addition, security personnel will not store the items or accept them as discarded property. Therefore, courthouse visitors are advised to leave such items at home or in their vehicles before entering the building.
Cell phones are also banned in the three courtrooms and only court personnel and attorneys appearing before the court will be allowed to carry them inside.
Judge St. Pierre said that a sign will be posted outside of the courthouse reminding the public about the courtroom cell phone ban so that they can leave the phones inside their vehicles.
For more information, contact the Courthouse Security Office at (985) 783-6237 ext. 2023. The full rules and regulations regarding courthouse security may be accessed under legislative file 2013-0440 at stcharles.legistar.com.