About the Court Security Unit
The Court Security Unit is responsible for securing and servicing the courts, and providing security for Children Services. The deputies of this unit are supervised by Sgt. Jeff Gebhart.
The Court Security Unit is committed to providing safety for the operations of the Butler County Courts system, and ensuring timeliness of court proceedings for those arrested and incarcerated. The primary span of services rendered by the Court Security Unit includes seven Common Pleas Court General Division Judges, and two Domestic Relations Court Judges (and all their various Magistrates) housed in the Government Services Building on High Street. Additionally, the Court Services Unit serves two Judges (and respective Magistrates) housed at the Juvenile Justice Center on Fair Avenue, the Area 1 Court in Oxford, Area 2 Court in the Historical Courthouse in Hamilton, and Area 3 Court in West Chester.
Beyond the scope of the county court system, other county agencies have contracted with the Sheriff’s Office for security services at their locations. The Court Services Division provides deputies for Children Services offices in Hamilton, along with the 12th District Court of Appeals in Middletown. The bulk of the Court Services Division personnel are located in the Government Services Building in Hamilton. Court Services deputies often respond to other county offices housed in the Government Services Building for any kind of trouble call, request for assistance, or panic alarms. Court Services deputies also routinely handle issues that may arise within the parking garage attached to the Government Services Building.
Screening and Transportation to Court
Various methods are used to enhance courtroom safety while screening courtroom visitors. Court Services personnel use metal detectors (walk-through and hand-held devices), x-ray machines, and if need arises, a physical pat-down. Although the number of courtroom visitors is not tracked, consider that in 2010, more than 313,609 purses/packages were x-rayed. Based on those x-rays and metal detector alerts, more than 3434 items – considered as potential weapons, were stopped at Court Security checkpoints from entering various courtrooms. More than 2,300 of those items were small pocket knives. Unfortunately, there is no way to ever prove whether the possession of any of those knives while entering a secure court area was truly an innocent oversight, or a clever attempt to get a weapon into the courtroom, and ultimately into the hands of a jail inmate who might be in court for a hearing or trial.
Prisoners housed in the Butler County Jail have to be transported to the various county courts for their respective trials and hearings. Although the Court Security Unit is not directly responsible for the transporting of the prisoners, Court Security deputies manage the prisoners while in court. Prisoners/inmates are often transported in groups to the court buildings where they are placed in holding cell areas. Prisoners then must be escorted to the individual courtrooms to ensure they remain in custody and arrive safely before the judge or magistrate.
In 2012, at least 216,078 items were checked through the x-ray machines. Based on those x-rays and metal detector alerts, more than 1851 items, considered as potential weapons, were stopped at Court Security checkpoints from entering various courtrooms. Through investigation, collaboration with the Courts, and Probation, Deputies made over 564 arrests at the various posts.
During 2011, more than 7,771 prisoners were transported to their scheduled court appearances, equaling an average of almost 650 per month. More than 276,700 people were screened entering the courts, and more than 2,450 items of contraband were seized. During 2011, Court Services deputies handled 21 traffic crashes that occurred within the Government Services Center parking garage. There were approximately 33,157 alerts, as individuals passed through the metal detectors.
During 2010, more than 8,261 prisoners were transported to their scheduled court appearances, equaling an average of almost 700 per month. In 2010, the Court Security Unit provided security for several high profile cases. One of which was a capital murder case involving Calvin McKelton who was accused of killing his girlfriend. Subsequently McKelton killed a witness to the crime. Mr. McKelton was well known by Cincinnati Police and other local agencies for involvement in other murder, robbery, and drug abuse cases. The security of the courtroom and transportation of the defendant was difficult due to his relationship with dangerous associates and criminals. During the trial, a higher level of security was maintained, and the defendant was convicted without incident.