Dartmouth provincial court will now require every visitor to clear a metal detector before entering.

Two full-time sheriffs have been hired to man the metal detector, according to Justice Minister Ross Landry. The metal detector will cost nothing, said Landry since all Nova Scotia courthouses already have them in some form.

“It was already paid for and bought,” said Landry. “We had it here, it was a matter of installing it.”

Opposition critics were quick to jump on that fact, accusing the government of dragging its feet on the matter.

“That’s what’s a bit puzzling here,” said Liberal justice critic Michel Samson. “Especially for a government that said they were going to cut back the hours of deputy sheriffs in the province. Why not put them to work making sure that the security of the staff and courthouse users is safe?”

Outgoing Tory MLA Murray Scott also criticized the government’s decision to scale back part-time sheriffs’ hours, saying he is unsatisfied with yesterday’s announcement.

According to Justice Department spokeswoman Jennifer Gavin, other courthouses in the province employ detectors on a random basis. A risk assessment is also made each day to determine if the detectors are warranted.

Safe enough?
Rick Woodburn, president of the Nova Scotia Crown Attorneys Association, applauded the government’s decision to install a permanent metal detector in the Dartmouth courthouse. But he said more needs to be done to protect lawyers and court staff. “There has to be enough sheriffs in order to make sure this courthouse is safe,” Woodburn, left, said. “Having the metal detectors is not enough.”