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Full-body scanners popping up at courthouses

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, but privacy became an issue when it was learned that images of the full-body scans were saved on a computer hard drive.


Asked by Gal51 at 8:51 PM on Nov. 23, 2010 in Politics & Current Events

Level 23 (15,495 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (30)
  • I don't know what is more disturbing.......these detectors turning up in more places or people not knowing what the hell they are being subjected too!


    Answer by yourspecialkid at 9:58 PM on Nov. 23, 2010

  • Seriously. It's disturbing that people arguing for these things don't even know what the hell they are. Jesus.

    Answer by MissAlisabeth at 10:14 PM on Nov. 23, 2010

  • Thats always your response older..and you have no idea of what I know of..miss on her high horse.History tells us that if we allow government to step over the line they will continue to..sooner or later we won't even recognizze our country any longer.

    Answer by tnmomofive at 8:08 AM on Nov. 24, 2010

  • No mom2 they have had METAL detectors for years. My God, how many people actually don;t know the difference?

    Answer by Carpy at 9:34 PM on Nov. 23, 2010

  • of course they are. Chertoff's lobbyists paid big money to push them.

    Answer by autodidact at 10:23 PM on Nov. 23, 2010

  • Ours doesn't it just has the metal detector and an officer has a wand.They have worked well enough..

    Answer by tnmomofive at 7:50 AM on Nov. 24, 2010

  • I'm telling you ladies who are all paranoid and supportive of these measures that if it is allowed to keep up you will awken one day to what appears to be a communist country..America will be no more and it will be YOUR fault.

    Answer by tnmomofive at 7:52 AM on Nov. 24, 2010

  • WTH older so you think for it to be communism it would have to be full fledge all at once? lol Jeez ..small doses over time is how it would be done in America older..get a grip

    Answer by tnmomofive at 9:53 AM on Nov. 24, 2010

  • Test the Americans to see how far they will allow their gov to go..make sense older?

    Answer by tnmomofive at 9:54 AM on Nov. 24, 2010

  • This is about power,control,money

    Answer by tnmomofive at 9:55 AM on Nov. 24, 2010