Abbeville City Hall metal detector workign well after three years
Jul 24, 2013 | 1117 views | 0 0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jimmy Touchet, who works security at Abbeville City Hall, watches as Katherine Tillman enters through the building’s security scanner. The city had the  metal detector installed three years ago. A similar device will soon be installed at the  Vermilion Courthouse.
Jimmy Touchet, who works security at Abbeville City Hall, watches as Katherine Tillman enters through the building’s security scanner. The city had the metal detector installed three years ago. A similar device will soon be installed at the Vermilion Courthouse.
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The Vermilion Parish Police Jury voted recently on changes for security measures at the parish Courthouse.

Among the changes will require those who enter the courthouse to walk through a security scanner. The police jury is being mandated by a court order to provide security for the courthouse.

For the past three years, citizens visiting Abbeville City Hall, located across the street from the courthouse, have walked through a security scanner while entering. Mayor Mark Piazza said the move three years ago for a metal detector came in response to an incident that occurred in another state.

“The council felt a need for a metal detector,” Piazza said. “We do collect money so we want to make sure we have the proper security just like any bank would.”

Operating hours at city hall are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Those attending 5 p.m. committee meetings and council meetings at 5:30 p.m. also have to go through the metal detectors.

“The metal detectors were not implemented just for the day-time hours,” Piazza said. “There are night-time meetings. We have also hosted many public meetings for higher-up politicians, like the governor, senators and representatives.

“They need to be protected too, so it is not just for us.”

Abbeville City Hall did have security set up prior to the installation of the metal detectors.

“We’ve always had security personnel,” Piazza said. “Or course they’re trained but they are not armed.”

Eugene Harrington watched over the city hall entrance for many years. He retired in 2012, with Jimmy Touchet taking his place. Touchet knows something about the process, having served as city marshal for 18 years.

“After I was marshal for about a year I convinced the judge to put a metal detector at city court,” Touchet said. “It worked well. We would stand at the door and we would see people walk up, see the metal detector and turn around and go back to the car. You could see them taking things out their pocket.

“That doesn’t mean they meant any harm, but they had something on them.”

Touchet said the greatest value of the metal detectors is simply as a deterrent.

“The ones who know it is there think twice before walking in with something,” Touchet said. “It puts people on alert.”

Someone doesn’t have to have a potential weapon for the scanner to respond. Car keys and cell phones, items that most entering city hall have in their pockets, will cause the detector to go off.

“Some people will also say they have a metal rod in their leg or something along those lines,” Touchet said. “You can always tell with things like that.”

Since he has been on the job, Touchet said he has not encountered any major issues.

“We haven’t had anyone trying to bring big knives or anything like that,” Touchet said.

As for the courthouse that Touchet sees everyday across the street, he likes the move to a metal detector system.

“It is way behind time,” Touchet said. “It would just be a matter of time before someone got hurt. You hope that never happens.

“It deters people and makes them think when there are metal detectors.”
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