Armed Guard Headed to Schuylkill County Courthouse

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POTTSVILLE -- The security checkpoint at the Schuylkill County courthouse in Pottsville is getting something new: an armed guard.

"We wanted to make sure, for best practice standpoint that the people who do come to the courthouse are safe," said Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage Jr.

Starting July 7th, there will be a full-time armed sheriff's deputy at the courthouse in addition to the two part time security officers who already work there.

"I think it's a good idea to have an armed guard on the premises. I think it will be good for the safety of all patrons involved," said Edward Woznicki from Schuylkill Haven.

Carolyn Bernatonis from Pottsville said, "Anything for the protection of the people, the jurors, anything that will make them feel safer. "

The Schuylkill County commissioners approved the new position on Wednesday.

Commissioner George Halcovage said the sheriff's office had been asking for an armed guard at the courthouse for years.

"As the sheriff had said, 2,500-3,000 weapons come in and are checked there. Nothing has happened. We just want to make sure it's a safe place for the employees who work here and also the general public who comes here," said Halcovage.

Some people in Pottsville where shocked to hear that many people bring weapons into the county courthouse.

"That's incredible. That's hard to believe. More proof that we need an armed guard," said Woznicki.

But others said that number seems about right.

"Given the way things are today, people want to be protected so they carry their own weapons in some cases. "

Halcovage said there has not been an incident where an armed guard was needed at the courthouse, but they would rather be prepared if something were to go wrong.

"Yes there are a lot of weapons that do come in. With all do respect, with having great people here, it only takes one having a very difficult situation in their life that can changes things," said the commissioner.

The new guard at the Schuylkill County courthouse will be a former detective from the County's District Attorney's office.

County commissioners said the armed guard will have all the proper training.

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