N.J. Courthouse to Unveil New Security Measures

HACKENSACK, N.J. — Bergen County Courthouse will unveil a $3 million security system this summer following several violent courtroom incidents across the United States .

Monitored from a central operations room, the system will integrate multiple technologies to create a security network that extends from the courthouse to the adjacent jail.

With more than 1 million people entering the courthouse building each year and no separate and secure area to transport and hold prisoners, officials hope the new system will create a safe environment for judges, lawyers, law enforcement, staff, the public and prisoners themselves.

Approximately 200 infrared intelligent video cameras will monitor and record activity in courtrooms, corridors and public areas. Cameras will also be installed in judges chambers and function as intercom units to screen entrants.

Judges will carry wireless personal panic buttons that can alert police within a six-block radius. Cameras mounted on poles around the courthouse building will focus on the alert location and transmit images of the incident to police cruisers and the central operations room.

All doors in the courthouse will be fitted with automatic, remote-controlled locks that can be activated by any officer using a key fob. All doors leading to the jury room and staff offices are designed to lock down automatically when the door leading to the inmate holding cell is opened. Doors remain locked until the holding cell door is locked again.

Prisoners held at the nearby jail will be outfitted with identification bracelets that have embedded microchips, which will allow authorities to track and log their movements and location within the jail and courthouse.

The prisoner identification chips will also carry information about the prisoner, including a photo, fingerprints and medical history, which can be accessed using a hand-held scanner.

Much like an air traffic control radar system, monitors in the operations room will display in real time the location of inmates, correctional officers and anyone carrying a panic button.

The first phase of the $3 million project, which is funded largely by federal grants for the post-9/11 security upgrade of public buildings, will operate on two criminal courtroom floors of county building by the end of the summer.

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