Metal Detectors -Ounce of Prevention or a Public Nuisance
Security Checks at the Court House
Each year in my county along about the first week of August, property tax bills are sent out by the Tax Collector. the taxes can be paid anytime after receipt of billing and will become delinquent after the first week in January. All real property such as houses or land are listed on the bill along with other assessments such as fire tax. The early arrival of our tax bills serve to give ample notice and if there may be a discrepancy, it can be addressed and the tax bill adjusted accordingly. For many it allows setting aside money to pay the bills.
Personally, it has been my custom to pay my taxes the first week in December hoping I don't have to rob Santa Claus. I don't mind paying my taxes because we live in a great county and the revenues generated are applied for the most part responsibly. The added fire tax is allocated proportionately to each of our volunteer fire departments who in turn invest in modern equipment to aid in protecting our property and land sometimes giving residents a reduced premium as a perk on home owners policies. I am proud of each volunteer organization within our county and the money I pay in the form of this tax is not burdensome.
What I am addressing here is another story, one which has become the norm all across our country. Since 911 we have seen in our airports and all public places increased measures of security. High tech metal detectors or x-ray machines along with body searches, and a minimum measure of having a security person wand our bodies seems have become the proverbial ounce of prevention. Even at local high school sporting events it is not uncommon to have a police officer wand each spectator and God forbid you have a pocket knife in the pants pocket. If you do you will be told to go immediately back to your vehicle and store and lock it up before being allowed to pass through the gate.
This added measure of security was put into place sometime this year at our County Courthouse. Last year I parked and simply walked inside the building on the ground floor, turned right and into the second door, paid my taxes and left the building. What a surprise I got this year. The door I had always used to enter the building has been designated an employee entrance, all other must enter from the far side. A little agitated, I got back into my vehicle and drove around to the other side, luckily I found a parking space right outside the ground floor entrance. the main Court House entrance I am told is not available now for public entrance and anyone entering the building must come through this entrance.
I went inside and just as I opened the door, turned right, I found myself confronted by a County Deputy and three uniformed security personnel. The uniformed security I found out are an all volunteer staff who man the metal detectors. "Walk this way! Empty your pockets in the plastic bin, you will be give it back after passing through the metal detector." I walked through the detector as just as I imagined my metal knee joints were picked up by the screening. One of the volunteer security then used a hand held wand to further check me for weapons. I carry a card in my wallet for just such occasions to verify I have metal knee and shoulder joints.
I know and realize these are security measures and did not feel compromised in any way. The process took longer than for me to pay my taxes to the Tax Collector just down the hall. The thought for me is how we have digressed at all levels, nationally and now even at local levels where fear rules our lives. Whether this new security measure is necessary is debatable but justifiable. Terrorists, criminals or some poor soul who for some no reason decide to work some evil or kill others seem to find a way to successfully inflict their demonic acts on the innocent.
We no longer live in a secure world and paying taxes at the County Court House, a relatively simple errand has become an ordeal. I think next year I will opt to just mail my check and avoid the hassle.