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United Way of Lancaster County


County looks to enhance security at MDJ offices (update)

The Magisterial District Court 02-1-01 at 641 Union St., Lancaster, is seen in an undated Google Street View image.

Update, June 26: On Wednesday, the county commissioners approved the three contracts for upgrading MDJ office security.

Previously reported:

The Lancaster County commissioners on Wednesday will consider approving just over $610,000 in security upgrades to the county’s 19 magisterial district justice offices.

The proposed work includes the installation of security cameras and alarm systems, bullet-resistant glass, solid-core doors and other enhancements.

When complete, it will bring the county into substantial compliance with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts’ latest guidelines for MDJ office security, General Services Director Bob Devonshire said at the commissioners’ work session Tuesday.

The needed upgrades vary from office to office. At five locations, “detention benches” with handcuff attachments will be installed for detainees who need to be secured during their processing.

The project involves contracts with three vendors that the commissioners will consider Wednesday: Anchortex of West Berlin, New Jersey, for the benches ($6,780); Pye Barker of Lancaster for the alarms and cameras ($68,572); and Lobar Associates for everything else ($537,426).

Some of the items can be installed quickly; the construction work will take longer, but everything should be wrapped up within 12 months, Devonshire said.

The total cost — $612,778, according to materials provided in the packet for Tuesday’s meeting — is a little higher than expected, but that’s offset by other projects that have come in lower, Devonshire said. Apart from some $20,000 in AOPC grant funding, the money will come from the county’s Capital Improvement Plan budget.

The MDJ District 02-2-02 office is at the county government center; the county leases the other 18 offices. The county will work with the sites’ respective landlords to coordinate the upgrades, Deputy Court Administrator Annie Flaud said. She said all 19 offices were visited, and MDJ staff expressed strong interest in having better security.

In an email to One United Lancaster, President Judge David Ashworth agreed, saying the issue “has been a concern for some time.” The county court system is “tremendously grateful” that the commissioners support the need for increased security, he said.

“We must have a safe and secure environment in which to address the significant volume of matters the Magisterial District Courts handle,” he said.