City officials say the security upgrade at Sandusky Municipal Court has been a smooth transition, but some people still see room for improvement.
On Jan. 7 a weapons screening checkpoint with a full-size metal detector was established at the public entrance to the court. A part-time police officer mans the portal, while people waiting for court hearings sit in the lobby instead of congesting the hall and the courtroom.
"Everything seems to be working quite well, frankly," said Judge Erich O'Brien, adding the lobby is quieter now. "What we have now is certainly an improvement."
The city bought the used metal detector from Vermilion Municipal Court several years ago for $500, O'Brien said. The machine sat collecting dust because of staffing issues.
"I think we got about the best we can do under the structure we are set in," O'Brien said.
Kathy Bowman, a Sandusky resident of nearly 40 years, said she would like to see more security emphasis placed on anyone entering the building -- not just those in the court area.
"If you're going to do it (security), do it all the way," she said. "We're still paying for it so we expect the best."
A larger checkpoint with more officers and in a different location -- near the entrance of the building -- would be ideal, she said.
"I think they could have done a much better job security-wise," said Dan Gorman, a local resident who said he's seen tougher court security in other cities.
Assistant police chief Charlie Sams said the checkpoint is only in its initial stages, and citizens' concerns will be looked at.
"At this time we've just implemented this," he said. "We're reviewing it to see what changes are necessary."
The goal now is to secure the courtroom and immediate area, where emotions can run high during hearings, Sams said. So far there haven't been any major hiccups in the process, he said.
"Everyone is cooperating, and there've been no real problems," he said.
The only bumps in the road so far have been a few complaints from people trying to get to the police department through the court corridor and back, Sams said. Now that door is locked, preventing re-entry to the opposite side of the building.
"It's a good idea. They (have to) keep people protected," said Clay McFadden of Sandusky.
Some kind of checkpoint is better than nothing.
"It's nice that they got it," said John Cherry, of Norwalk. "I feel a lot safer."