Law and Justice Center security checkpoint

Austin Greydanus, checkpoint officer, screens people entering the Law and Justice Center on Thursday.

In its first four months of operation, the Law and Justice Center security checkpoint has issued five tickets and stopped people with knives, guns and a Taser from entering the building.

The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office began screening people in February to increase safety inside the building located at 615 S. 16th Ave.

Gallatin County sheriff’s checkpoint officer Shawn Fliehman said security turned away five people with guns in its first week, however, it hasn’t seen a gun since. Even with six signs outside the building’s doors, Fliehman said, the checkpoint sees people with knives and multi-tools at the gate daily.

He said five people have been cited since the checkpoint has opened for trying to stash knives in trees, bushes or rocks outside after they were told to put them in their car. People aren’t allowed to stash knives outside because it opens up the possibility of a child finding it or someone else trying to bring the knife into the building, Fliehman said.

“We’re just stopping weapons from coming in,” he said.

The courts inside deal with criminal matters, Fliehman said, but they also handle things like divorces, child custody disputes and other civil issues. He said emotions run high during those proceedings and that’s when something could happen.

“By putting in the checkpoint, we’re making sure that everybody who comes into the building is safe,” Fliehman said.

Three officers, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., check people coming into the building with an X-ray machine and metal detectors. One reviews X-ray images, another double checks people who set the metal detector off and the third checks security cameras.

By 2 p.m. Thursday, Austin Greydanus, checkpoint officer, said they had turned away eight people with knives that day, but that number could go up to a dozen or more before closing. And he said the checkpoint doesn’t hold knives because people could steal them and pull them on officers.

People unable to use stairs are screened at the building’s north entrance. Anyone wishing to come to the Law and Justice Center after hours, on weekends or on holidays can push a button at the entrance and someone will come screen them.

Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2630. Follow him on Twitter @TGIFreddy.

Reporter

Freddy Monares covers politics and county government for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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