Security system coming to Racine Co. Courthouse by April 1st

RACINE (WITI) -- There is nothing at the door to the Racine County Courthouse that prevents people from bringing in weapons -- but that will soon change. By April 1st, a new security plan will be put into place to include the use of a metal detector, an X-ray machine, monitors and emergency alarms.

At the Racine County Law Enforcement Center, those entering must empty their pockets, and security checks for any contraband. This is where traffic, misdemeanor and felony cases are heard.

However, across the street at the Racine County Courthouse, there is no security at the entrance.

"I have actually wondered about that," Vicki Bermudez, who works as an interpreter at the Racine County Courthouse said.

Bermudez says she works a lot of family cases -- cases where emotions can run high.

"Emotions tend to run very high in this building with those types of cases," Racine County Sheriff Chris Schmaling said.

Schmaling says emotions ran so high last Christmas, things nearly turned violent.

"We had a call from an individual who indicated he was going to end his life right here in this very building," Schmaling said.

To ensure other potential violent incidents don't happen, Racine County is set to install a walk through metal detector and a scanner at the Wisconsin Avenue entrance of the Racine County Courthouse.

It would be a nearly identical setup to the one you would see across the street at the Law Enforcement Center.

County Executive Jim Ladwig said it will cost Racine County nearly $98,000 -- which has been budgeted already for the Sheriff's Office in 2014 -- plus the cost of reserve deputies to man the security station, who would work on a part-time basis.

"I'll definitely have to give myself some more time to get through in that respect and that's a good thing," Bermudez said.

While Bermudez isn't worried, Racine County feels it will provide an extra layer of security.

"We have to step back and take a look at what the fundamental rule of government is and that fundamental rule is the protection of its people," Schmaling said.

This plan still has to be approved by the Racine County Board, which will discuss the second reading of this proposal next week.

Schmaling wants to have the security system in place by April 1st.