One of the rituals of going into the Caddo Courthouse on the 500 block of Texas is getting to enter through metal detectors—and to take off your belt.
Caddo Sheriff deputies man metal detectors at the three entrances to the courthouse and one at the Frances Bickham building on the corner of Marshall and Milam.
They also have metal detectors at the Caddo juvenile court and juvenile annex buildings.
Unfortunately, those deputies hear many complaints about the process.
In the first six months of this year, an average of 16,300 people was scanned at these three facilities, which they are only open 5 days a week.
Over 1200 weapons were seized during this time frame—which is more than 200 a month.
These included one gun and over 240 large knives, 26 medium knives, 170 small knives, 170 pepper spray, and 400 other weapons.
The category of “other weapons” is wide-ranging.
Those detected included key and credit card knives, tasers, brass knuckles, scissors, utility blades, metal hair picks, razors, screwdrivers, forks, needle nose pliers, syringes, large nails, large safety pins, a window breaker, scissors, a sharpened bone, one-foot chain, food thermometer, wire cutters, an expandable baton, a pipe wrench, a flashlight, corkscrews, pliers, and metal rods.
The most common complaint of courthouse visitors is the requirement to take their belts off as they pass through the detector. This procedure was instituted in 2002 when a courthouse visitor bragged about hiding be Derringer behind his large cowboy belt.
The normal procedure when the deputies discover items considered to be weapons is to send the visitor back to his vehicle and leave the item there.
Firearms are detained to determine if the person lawfully possessed the gun. Assuming the gun is not stolen or the person carrying it does not have an outstanding warrant, a deputy escorts that person out of the building so the gun can be secured.
It’s a reality of today’s world that weapons of all types are being used unlawfully. The precautions exercised by the Caddo Sheriff’s office are also followed at other courthouses throughout the state.
So on your next visit to the courthouse, be ready to pass through a metal detector, and maybe further screening. Don’t fuss—this requirement is for everyone’s protection.