Butler County courts changing to ramp up activity, including new machine

Hearings in Butler County Common Pleas Court, which have mostly been rescheduled for months because coronavirus precautions, are ramping up with some notable cases.

A large new machine is one of the indicators.

Earlier this month, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office installed an infrared camera at the court wing entrance. Mounted on top of the X-ray machine, it takes a person’s temperature just before they pass through the metal detector. Court security deputies see the temperatures on a monitor.

It is the second system installed in the county. Last month, the same one was installed at the Butler County Jail. The device checks the temperature of all those entering and leaving the facility on Hanover Street.

“It is not just for (the coronavirus),” Major Mike Craft said. “This system will stay in place even after COVID is long gone because it is useful for other illnesses.

At the Common Pleas Court, restrictions are also in place. By judicial order, anyone in the common area of the court wing at the Butler County Government Services Center must wear a mask and have their temperature taken before entering.

The precautions, one of the key elements to keeping people safe because fever is a main symptom of the virus, have allowed for more activity at the courts.

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Deputies at the security checkpoint were not only operating the metal detector and X-ray machine, but taking temperatures with hand held thermometers. It can be a slow process, especially with the number of people increasing to attend court proceedings.

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A person with a fever over 100 degrees will not be permitted to enter the court wing.

“They will be turned away. No exceptions,” Craft said.

Both systems cost $11,000. The equipment at the court wing was paid for with Targeted Community Alternative to Prison grant funding.

Deputies also have masks for people who do not bring one with them.

Judges decide if they will require masks in their courtroom. Last week, Judge Charles Pater did not wear a mask while on the bench, noting it was difficult to communicate when he was wearing his. There were few people in the courtroom, but the majority, including attorneys, were masked.

Masks are required in the all hallways and common areas, as well.

MORE: Butler County Jail adds camera to take body temperature during coronavirus concerns

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