For the first time in more than five years, visitors can finally walk up the front steps of the Rock Island County Office Building, but then they have to get through a new security checkpoint.
Rock Island County Sheriff Gerry Bustos installed the metal detector and X-ray machine this week. He also opened the old main entrace, and shutdown the ground level and back doors.
“Employees have asked to build that into our budget and we were finally able to get the money to be able to do that,” said Rock Island County Sheriff Gerry Bustos.
Bustos says they spent about $50,000 total: $30,000 on the technology and $20,000 restoring the front entrance.
County Auditor April Palmer says they were able to make room in the budget after departments moved around with the new courthouse.
“It will be a nice addition to have that added security in this building,” she said.
Securing the county office building was just as difficult for Bustos’ department as securing the old courthouse.
“This is an old building that was never meant to have this, so we’re trying to retrofit it so we’re trying to fit a square peg in a round hole,” Bustos said.
There hasn’t been any major security threat, but the sheriff says they’ve had a few scares. A couple of months ago he says someone left their backpack in the basement.
“It startled the employees, you know, we called the bomb squad,” he said. “Everything was fine, but it’s those things we want to avoid. In today’s climate, you just never know.”
Bustos said they’ll also be adding security during county board meetings. They’ve always had one deputy in council chambers, but now they’ll have another manning the security checkpoint.