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Cell phones banned from Rowan Justice Center

By Steve Huffman
shuffman@salisburypost.com
Come July 1, cell phones of any type won’t be permitted in the Rowan County Justice Center.
This decision was made by the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office. Officials with the department said cell phones have become an increasing problem in the Justice Center in recent years.
For years, camera phones have been banned from the Justice Center. This ban was put in place because a number of individuals used their cameras to snap pictures during the course of a trial.
The decision to ban all cell phones was done because they’ve proved a disruption on several occasions. According to the sheriff’s office, cell phones have at times rung during the midst of a trial. Some receiving calls have gone so far as to answer their phones, a decision that isn’t typically received with an overwhelmingly favorable response from bailiffs who monitor the courtrooms.
Those phones were seized at the direction of the presiding judge and returned at the judge’s discretion.
“It just happened on a more and more regular basis,” said Capt. John Sifford of the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, referring to cell phone disruptions during the midst of trials. “People forget to turn them off, and when they ring, it’s too late. It does cause a disruption.”
According to the sheriff’s office, the ringing and answering of cell phones weren’t the only Justice Center problems the little gizmos caused. Cell phones also created problems at the entrances to the Justice Center. Those entrances are monitored by deputies and those coming and going are required to pass through metal detectors.
According to the sheriff’s office, the requirement to check every cell phone to see if it features a camera “greatly impedes the efficiency of the staff at the security check stations.
“There are delays caused by the requirement to check every cell phone, thereby reducing security throughout the Justice Center,” reads a news release from the sheriff’s office.
Sifford said the problem with checking to see if cell phones had cameras was greater in the mornings, when more people were entering the Justice Center.
He said attorneys and others with courtroom credentials that allow them to bypass the metal detectors can continue to carry cell phones into the Justice Center.

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