Private security to run metal detectors, x-ray at Canada court

Ottawa police are asking for budget approval to hire private security to run the metal detectors and x-ray machines being installed in the Ottawa courthouse. In a report that is going before the Police Services Board on Monday, the Ottawa police said contracting out the security screening for the new single access point to the Elgin Street courthouse is the “most cost-effective and feasible option” after reviewing their staffing options. The report recommends that Federal Force Protection Agency guards be contracted out to staff the entrance and operate the equipment. The report says the three full-time and three part-time private guards are expected to cost $111,400 for the rest of 2015, and $293,600 annually for 2016 and 2017.

The request for private security comes amid concerns about the scope of the new security measures, which have been called “draconian” by the Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa. The association, which represents Ottawa criminal defence lawyers, is concerned about members of the public being interrogated and asked to identify themselves.

Ottawa police Insp. Steve Bell, who oversees courthouse security, said the duties of the private guards would be limited to queuing people, running their bags through X-ray machines and wanding them if they set off the metal detector. Bell said the private guards will be limited to running the equipment; one or two police officers or special constables will always be stationed at the entrance to the building. The private guards will not be asking for identification or questioning anyone entering the building, Bell said.