Routt County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Blaine Watson screens Routt County Justice Center employee Rene Mattone’s bag on Tuesday. The Sheriff’s Office is testing the new screening machine as a way to avoid searching bags by hand.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Routt County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Blaine Watson screens Routt County Justice Center employee Rene Mattone’s bag on Tuesday. The Sheriff’s Office is testing the new screening machine as a way to avoid searching bags by hand.

Bag scanner aids security efforts at Routt County Justice Center

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— Routt County Sheriff’s Office deputies who oversee security at the Routt County Justice Center are testing a new piece of equipment.

In the past, security screening at the Justice Center involved placing objects in a bin and walking through a metal detector similar to those found in airports. Bags had to be searched by hand.

Jail Lt. Michelle Richardson said the new machine at the Justice Center is similar to those used at courthouses throughout the country.

“It’s just an added tool,” Richardson said.

The machine is on loan from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office for an undetermined amount of time, Richardson said, but the hope is to purchase one for permanent placement in the Justice Center.

“We were able to borrow it from them to see if we really liked it,” Richardson said.

The machines start at $25,000, Richardson said, and the Sheriff’s Office is in the process of applying for a grant that would help cover the cost of buying one.

“It’s less intrusive,” longtime Justice Center Deputy Joe Ward said.

The machine also is helping to speed up the screening process.

Richardson said that on busy jury selection days, more than 300 people have been screened at the Justice Center.

“Sometimes, it would take a long time to get the jury selection through the door,” Richardson said.

Some of those who work at the Justice Center appreciate the high-tech screening.

“I feel that our security staff did an excellent job as it was, but I’m glad to see that Routt County is getting a little technology,” court clerk Jeannie Adrian said.

So far, the machine has been helpful in finding objects that the deputies might have missed during a hand screening, Richardson said. People sometimes forget they are carrying potential weapons such as pocketknives.

“I won’t say specifically what we have found, but things that shouldn’t be in a public building,” Richardson said.

— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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