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Courthouse metal detector is recalibrated

The Hubbard County Courthouse's metal detector was re-calibrated after a defendant smuggled a blade into the courtroom last month and cut himself with it. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

If you're an aficionado of button-fly jeans or underwire bustiers, you'd may want to steer clear of the Hubbard County courthouse.

Those clothing items will surely trip the court's newly recalibrated metal detector.

When a troubled man smuggled a thin-bladed weapon into the courthouse last month undetected, Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes tested the security himself by carrying the blade through the metal detector.


"When the Sheriff's Office purchased the metal detector several years ago it was set on a sensitivity level specific for a courtroom setting," Aukes explained.

"While the machine picks up what we would definitely consider common weapons, there is an allowance for smaller metal objects such as zippers, buttons, metal-framed eyeglasses, something that somebody would wear on their clothing.

"The tradeoff, as we found out was the machine not detecting a very thin blade that was later used by an individual to harm himself.

"Thankfully, Sheriff's Office staff that were present reacted quickly and took control of the situation," Aukes said.

"This is the first incident of this kind that I can recall in my 22 years with the Sheriff's Office and we have since change the sensitivity of the metal detector going into the courtroom," he noted.

Button-fly jeans "are gonna be an issue," Aukes acknowledged of the new setting, "It's gonna go off. And they have a wand over there. Atech from the company even told me with this setting some of womens' underwire bras are gonna go off. But that's the trade-off."

Aukes said the bailiffs would try the new settings for a while. Wednesday, court personnel were waving the wand over everyone involved in a condemnation proceeding because they all triggered a response. No one complained.

Aukes said Leroy A. Hamblin, 36, did not fit the profile of someone intending to do harm.

"The bailiff was standing right there in position," Aukes said of the smuggling. "The individual showed up with his attorney wearing a suit and a tie with long sleeves on the suit. He was seated right next to his attorney at the table."

Aukes said Hamblin's injury "wasn't life threatening but it could have been very bad. The bailiff was 10 feet away. I couldn't be happier for my staff. They reacted very quickly."

Hamblin has been charged with bringing a dangerous weapon into the courtroom and appeared on the charge Tuesday.

"There are a lot of items that don't get detected," said Bud Olson, deputy director of professional services for the Minnesota Sheriff's Association.

"You are not alone with items that get through the metal detector."

He said his organization keeps photos of various items people try to smuggle into a courtroom.

Aukes is hoping with the enhanced sensitivity, weapons will no longer be an issue.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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