Area residents will notice an increase of security measures during proceedings of the Tenth Judicial District Court at the Quay County Courthouse.
Several Quay County residents reported to the district courthouse in Tucumcari on Monday for jury duty. Like many times before, they assembled on the second floor outside the courtroom awaiting to be seated for the selection process.
Only this time before they were allowed inside the courtroom, they had to pass through a metal detector stationed by the southside staircase.
“The metal detector is part of the new security protocols that will soon be in full use at the courthouse,” said Dianne Ulibarri, court administrator. “Monday’s trial run was to help the sheriff’s deputies become familiar with the equipment.”
As the prospective jurors passed through the device, the alarm sounded off when a metal object was detected. From their pockets came loose change, keys, and they showed the Quay County Sheriff’s deputies their rings, watches, belt buckles and earrings that might have of set the device off.
Ulibarri said that there will also be a X-Ray machine set up along with the metal detector. The X-Ray machine will allow the deputies to view the contents of the purses, handbags and briefcases of jurors, attorneys and visitors before they enter into the courtroom.
“The equipment cost $15,000 and was paid for by capital outlay money the court received last year,” Ulibarri said. “This equipment will help to ensure the safety of our courtroom.”
The increased security was noticed immediately by the employees of several county offices in the courthouse.
“I like that they have set up the metal detector,” said Albert J. Mitchell Jr, Quay County district judge. “I think it should be used for every hearing and they should have installed it sooner.”
Ulibarri said that security measures like these have been in use at district courthouses across the state for several years, and Quay County is catching up with the times.
“We have large jury trials here and sometimes murder trials,” Ulibarri said. “With those type of trials large crowds will gather in the courtroom. In the past we did not have a way to search those people unless we did it individually. The chances of someone smuggling something into the courtroom was too high.”