Central Courthouse to ramp up security

Security at the county’s Central Courthouse is being increased in response to an expanded caseload and fears about gangs in the surrounding neighborhood, according to officials.

The San Mateo court, on the 800 block of North Humboldt Street, will spend about $222,000 to construct a new security checkpoint and add an X-ray machine in the coming months, officials said. The court, a branch of the county’s Superior Court that used to deal exclusively with traffic and small claims cases, began handling complex civil litigation cases earlier this year.

So-called complex litigation includes lawsuits involving large companies such as biotech firms, county Court Executive Officer John Fitton said. “Since we’ve got a full-service courtroom now, that was one reason for the increased security.”

The added funds to construct a secure checkpoint will enhance the safety for everyone who uses the facility, County Manager John Maltbiesaid in a report to supervisors.

The court also added a metal detector and more security personnel recently, Fitton said. Gang activity in the neighborhood is well-noted and was a consideration in asking for beefed-up security, Fitton said.

So far, there have been no major incidents of guns or knives being smuggled into county courthouses, and these precautions are meant to keep it that way, Fitton said.

The project should go to bid next month and be completed by September, Fitton said.

ecarpenter@examiner.com

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