For the Somerset County Sheriff's Office securing the courthouse is a way of life.
"You deal with all types of emotions. People go through some of the happiest moments in their lives — they are getting marriage licenses or passport photos. Other people are going through the lowest points in their lives — they are facing incarceration or dealing with custody issues," said Somerset County Sheriff John Mankey.
The deputies who attend the courthouse entryway know they are not only there to secure the courthouse, but they are there as a service to the public, he said.
"We have to adjust to their moods," he said, noting that sometimes tempers flare and the deputies must separate the individuals.
"When someone comes through the courthouse and the first person they meet has a bad attitude, it can make them nervous and then they might seem suspicious," said Sheriff Deputy Tim Pritts. "We try to keep it upbeat and happy and professional."
Often the deputy on duty at the metal detector walk-through portal, X-ray machine and security camera station at the courthouse's entry become both a font of information and a public relations person for visitors.
Visitors have questions that run the gamut — from where to go in the courthouse, to where is a good restaurant in town. Sometimes people just want to look at the beauty of the historical landmark that includes a marble stairway and stained glass dome.
Sheriff Deputy Robert Logsdon said that three times over the last three years people have come off the turnpike just to see the courthouse. There was a family of four from Japan, a couple from Germany and a family of five from France. In addition, he talked to visitors from several states and Canada.
"I enjoy talking to the people who come in. Most county people have not been in the courthouse for years, and a lot have never been in the courthouse," he said.
Sheriff Deputy Brad Cramer said that the thing he likes the most with courthouse security duty is interacting with the people.