SOMERVILLE, NJ  – Somerset County Sheriff’s officers stand vigil inside the doors of the County Courthouse making certain that no weapons or illegal contraband goes any further.

“In 2015, hundreds of items – from single razor blades hiding in wallets, to knives disguised as house keys, to folding knives, pepper spray and even a few steak knives – were secured due to the efforts of our Sheriff’s Officers,” said Somerset County Sheriff Frank J. Provenzano.

The officers screen everyone who enters the building, as well as searching packages or other containers entering the court building.

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“They have again done a great job in collecting potentially dangerous items before they could enter the Somerset County Courthouse,” he said. “Once the officers identify the potentially dangerous items, most items are surrendered and are collected for destruction and secured in the sharps container.”

Although the number of courthouse visitors is not tracked, in 2015 more than 338,800 items were x-rayed.  Based on those scans and metal-detector alerts, hundreds of items considered as potential weapons were stopped at the entrance of the courthouse and prevented from entering the building. 

“There is no way to prove if the confiscated items where intended for potential harm or just an innocent oversight,” Provenzano said.  “But the most important value is in thwarting any potential danger from entering the courthouse and ultimately into the hands of someone who might do harm in a court hearing or trial.

“My advice to the citizens of Somerset County is, before you come to the Somerset County Courthouse, please check your person and belongings for items that could be considered dangerous and secure them at home,” he said. “Our goal is to ensure everyone’s safety.”