Batons, sword among weapons seized at Durham courthouse

Mar. 10, 2014 @ 09:04 PM

Durham County sheriff’s deputies seized 2,200 weapons – including a bayonet – in the first year since the new downtown courthouse opened.

Other weapons that courthouse visitors tried to slip inside include stun guns that look like cell phones and razor-sharp knives shaped like credit cards.

But thanks to alert deputies and their metal detectors and X-ray machines, no stabbings or serious injuries have happened since the courthouse opened Feb. 13, 2013, according to Sgt. Jeff Daughtry, who helps oversee courthouse security.

In addition to finding weapons, deputies arrested 861 people in the courthouse during the first 12 months. Most were for unserved warrants.

Daughtry said more than 100,000 people have entered the courthouse since it opened, and all must pass through a security screening area at the courthouse entrance.

Most weapons deputies found were knives, but others include:

- Expandable batons.

- Scissors.

- A sword.

Not all weapons seizures resulted in arrests.

“A number of people who had knives and scissors most likely had no criminal intent,” said Maj. Paul Martin, who oversees courthouse security. “These items may have been possessed for work-related reasons. In these situations, deputies exercised discretion and asked the person to take the item back to their car.”

But deputies also have found drugs.

“We’ve had people come in the courthouse having forgotten that they have cocaine or heroin in their pockets,” Martin said. “Of course, they suffered the consequences.”

“Our deputies are seeking to protect the public in an understanding, non-harassing, yet security-conscious manner,” he said.