Isle of Wight courthouse security tightened

Published 6:59 pm Tuesday, September 3, 2019

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

A sign of the times is now being reflected in how residents can access Isle of Wight County buildings. 

Isle of Wight County employees recently attended active shooter training and, based on that instruction, made some changes depending on the department and the building, said Isle of Wight Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson.

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For example, individuals who go to the county’s administrative offices will no longer be buzzed in and allowed to proceed to offices alone, said Robertson.

Now, visitors will state who they are there to see and that employee will escort the person back to his or her office, said Robertson. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Isle of Wight County’s main administration building a few years ago added a wall and glassed-in office with a locked door to restrict access to administrative offices. That change was made during a particularly tense local political climate. 

Meanwhile, as every building is different, the precautions may vary, said Robertson.

The change is the result of the recent training, the multiple shooting incidents nationwide, and particularly in Virginia Beach, where 12 people were killed in the city’s municipal building, said Robertson.

Although that incident was the result of an employee with a gun, “it really opened everyone’s eyes about being vigilant about safety,” said Robertson. 

Robertson said that public safety officials toured each building and office and gave suggestions on how to increase safety. 

“We want our employees and citizens to feel safe when they come to our buildings,” said Robertson, adding that it may cause a minor inconvenience.  

may create a minor inconvenience 

Last year, Isle of Wight County schools instituted changes to its system in response to the Parkland High School shooting that left 17 people dead. 

Upgrades include new cameras, access badge control and an emergency communications system. 

A Michigan school district took school security one step further by overhauling one of its high schools with curved hallways and shadow zones in classrooms to reduce shooting sightlines — that is, make it harder for a shooter to get a straight line shot, according to a recent story in The Washington Post. 

The construction of reduced sightlines is reminiscent of zig-zag trenches dug in France during World War I to achieve the same result, according to The Washington Post. 

The changes at the Michigan high school were designed by a company that also designs prisons, according to The Washington Post.  {/mprestriction}