Full-body scanners popping up at courthouses
P. SOLOMON BANDA
Tue Nov 23, 9:21 pm ET
CASTLE ROCK, Colo. – Taking a trip during the holidays isn't the only time that people might get a full-body scan to pass through security. People heading to court to testify, get a restraining order, pay a ticket or answer criminal charges could also face a full-body scan at courthouses.
The U.S. Marshals Service, which is in charge of protecting federal judges nationwide, is exploring their use at federal courthouses. And two state courthouses in Douglas and El Paso counties in Colorado have already deployed full-body scanners that use radio waves to detect all objects on a person, including paper.
A guard in a separate room monitors the gray images with pixelated faces and genital areas, and the images aren't stored on a computer. officials said. All visitors to the Douglas County Courthouse in Castle Rock, Colo., undergo full-body scans, while guards at the El Paso County Judicial Center in Colorado Springs use the scanners during peak hours.
Angela Hellenbrand received a quick pat down Tuesday by security guard Mike Couts at the Castle Rock courthouse about 30 miles south of Denver. A guard in another room monitoring the full-body scans alerted Couts to an object in Hellenbrand's left rear pocket. It was the paper backing of a "Junior Deputy Sheriff" sticker that one of the guards had given her two young boys.
"It's OK," Hellenbrand said. "It's how they do security here. It's my second time through."
TSA officers, who handle security at airports, have been called molesters and threatened as they try to carry out patdowns called for in security measures for people who refuse to go through full-body scanners, including some that use X-rays.
The new security techniques are meant to thwart plots by would-be terrorists to use liquid explosives and bombs hidden in shoes and inside underwear. Court observers note that the threat in a courtroom is somewhat different.
"What we are still worried about at a courthouse is angry divorce litigants with a gun," said Sam Kamin, a law professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. "Metal detectors are pretty good at that."
Still, court officials note that evolving technology in materials, including plastic guns and knives, aren't detected by the 1970s technology of metal detectors.
"Although we have no current plans for deployment, the U.S. Marshals Service believes in the technology," said Washington-based Michael Prout, assistant director for judicial security for the U.S. marshals. "We will continue to explore the use of body scanners as a security measure for the federal judiciary."
Prout declined to discuss the results of a full-body screening test, citing sensitive law enforcement and procurement information.
In a statement, the marshals said they didn't receive any complaints from people passing through the scanners during the tests. The images of the full-body scans were saved on a computer hard drive, but weren't accessible without an administrative password and weren't reviewed by the marshals, according to the agency.
However, privacy became an issue when it was learned the images were stored. The Marshals Service received a request for the information under the Freedom of Information Act, but it wasn't immediately known who made the request.
June 2021 May 2021 April 2021 March 2021 February 2021 January 2021 December 2020 November 2020 October 2020 September 2020 August 2020 July 2020 June 2020 May 2020 April 2020 March 2020 February 2020 January 2020 December 2019 November 2019 October 2019 September 2019 August 2019 July 2019 June 2019 May 2019 April 2019 March 2019 February 2019 January 2019 December 2018 November 2018 October 2018 September 2018 August 2018 July 2018 June 2018 May 2018 April 2018 March 2018 February 2018 January 2018 December 2017 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 May 2017 April 2017 March 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 November 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 March 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 November 2015 October 2015 September 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 April 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008