Empty your pockets.
Take off your coat.
Remove your belt.
And, if the buzzer should sound ...
Please stand and extend your arms.
Turn around. Place each of your palms flat on the counter and lift your left pants leg. Next your right.
Take your belongings to that table.
And have a good day.
You scamper away, shirt tail hanging, while clutching your beltless trousers and your possessions, and feeling as if you've left a tiny piece of your dignity at the metal detector.
Effective this week, you can add to this dressing-down at both the
Where to leave it? Well, for now, you'll need to figure that out.
You could find someone you trust to hold it for you while you conduct your courthouse business. You could place it in your car, if you happened to drive to the courthouse.
To be fair, courthouse patrons are required to file through such a stringent security gantlet for a perfectly logical reason: Courthouses in general, and courtrooms in particular, are no places for firearms or sharp implements. A building where people are tried and some are sentenced -- and where emotional dramas play out daily among often bitterly divided parties -- is no place for weapons.
Security checkpoints are an important and necessary inconvenience.
But cellphones and tablets?
To a generation for whom handheld electronics are veritable body parts, this may be especially tough to swallow. Yet the new policy is rooted in a concern that such devices are not only disruptive and annoying but potential instruments of intimidation and danger. For instance, courthouse security once spotted someone using a cellphone to snap photos of police officers on the witness stand during a drug trial.
So, the rationale seems sound. As for the timing and execution? Not so much.
Maybe it would have made more sense to implement the policy after better provisions had been made to store banned devices for later pickup. And after pay phones had been installed to provide a ready alternative to cellphone service.
The pay phones may be installed next week, court officials say, and there may or may not be storage boxes to store devices handed over at the door. Then or ever. But neither option was in place as startled court patrons were politely told what they could do with their phones (as in anything but bring them inside).
Sure, court officials announced the ban back in November. But it's a safe bet that many will be caught by surprise, especially since some people who come to court in
This isn't to disparage court security officers, who are consistently courteous and professional. But could they have waited a week or two?
You'd have expected sounder judgment from a building filled with judges.
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