Benton County Attorney David Thompson announced that several new security measures will go into place for the Benton County Courthouse, beginning April 2.

Amng those changes: Only one door, the west door (facing 1st Avenue) will be open for visitors, and the use of a metal detector and x-ray machine for scanning purses and bags.

Thompson announced the changes in a press release, sent to area media, on Tuesday.

Below is the press release in its entirety:

Benton County is proud to announce that it is taking additional steps to provide enhanced security in its Courthouse. The changes announced today are part of a long process that began nineteen years ago with the introduction of security cameras and alarms and will continue in the future. The changes announced today are part of the County’s effort to continue to provide a Courthouse that is safer for both our employees and our citizens.

Effective Monday, April 2, 2018, entry to and from the Benton County Courthouse will be through the West door only. All visitors to the Courthouse will enter and exit through this door, and the North and South doors will be locked and designated as emergency exits only.

Upon entry through the West door, Courthouse Security Officers will conduct a routine security check that will involve passing through a non-invasive metal screening doorway for the individual; with purses, bags and other parcels being passed through an x-ray machine. The Security Officers will be Deputy Sheriffs, who will be courteous, helpful and highly trained. This security check will be similar to those utilized by other Eastern Iowa Courthouses.

Benton County wants the public to know that the decision to make these changes is being made after several months of study by numerous County Officials, and after consultation with experts in the field of building security. In addition, the steps announced today have been recommended by past Benton County Grand Juries, and coincide with two recent orders by the Iowa Supreme Court.

The County understands that new procedures can take some time to adjust to. We hope that all of our citizens will understand the need for this change and will work with us during this transition. Benton County will continue to strive to provide excellent public service in facilities that are safe for all.

Benton County will be holding a press conference at 11:00 a.m. this Friday, March 9, 2018 in the Conference Room of the Benton County Law Enforcement Center, located at 113 East 3rd Street, Vinton, Iowa 52349. The public and media are invited to attend to learn more about these security improvements.