El Paso County Courthouse Ups Security

By: Katherine Cook Email
By: Katherine Cook Email

Starting next week, security screening at the El Paso County Courthouse will be quicker and more thorough, say county officials. On Tuesday, they unveiled the L-3 ProVision Body Scanning Checkpoint Security System. At a cost of 140 thousand dollars, it looks a bit like an expensive phone booth, but in reality, its revolutionary technology eliminates the need for security officers to "reach out and touch someone."

"There will be almost no need to use a scan wand or pat someone down," said L-3 Communications Vice President, John Marsala. "If the security screeners see something unusual, they just have to ask to see what it is, since the machine will catch it."

The ProVission exposes powder, liquid, ceramics and plastics-- items that comprise the new threat matrix, according to County Security Director, Rick Leffler. Leffler says the ProVission will catch items a metal detector would miss.

"If someone were to come in with a ceramic knife or a shank, a metal detector wouldn't be able to catch them," said Leffler. "This machine will make everyone inside the courthouse a lot safer."

The ProVission is also making some people uncomfortable. The scanner uses radio frequency waves to create an image of the body, by going through clothing and bouncing off skin. The body's form is exposed, although software automatically blurs out the chest and crotch areas. Still, some citizens say they feel the scanner will invade their privacy.

"I'm a little worried," said Richard Burrell. "I feel like that's just one step away from being naked in front of the security officer, but if that's the direction we're headed in to keep everyone safe, that's okay."

County officials say the addition of ProVission eliminates two security positions at the courthouse, and will save the county 65 thousand dollars a year.


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