Page 2 of 2 Previous
Nancy Peters, communications specialist for Minnesota’s Fourth Judicial District, said Hennepin County now plans to construct permanent security screening at its Ridgedale and Brookdale centers. Decisions about permanent changes at the Southdale location are on hold, she said, because the entire building is being evaluated for changes.
State court officials say they don’t know how many of Minnesota’s 87 counties have weapons-screening systems in their courthouses. “All of those buildings are owned by the counties, not the courts,” said Kyle Christopherson, communications specialist in the state court information office. “The local sheriff is in charge of security for each of those facilities, and they determine at the local level what they need.”
‘As much as you can afford’
Scott County’s Shelton said weapons screening creates “more of a secure envelope” in a building, but it can’t prevent problems outside. Screening systems should probably should not be installed as a “knee-jerk reaction” to a single incident, he said.
“You need to constantly assess the level of security and when you should make adjustments,” he said. “You don’t want to waste resources by being overly protective, but you also don’t want to be foolish about real threats and not provide adequate protection.”
The balancing act of providing both access and safety in public buildings has played out in Wright County, where county offices and courts are in the same building. County Coordinator Lee Kelly said the court portion of the building in Buffalo had metal detectors for several years, but in 2008 the equipment was moved to the front and back entrances so everyone who entered the building was screened. Last summer, county commissioners decided to pull the detectors from the main entrances and return them to just the courts area, he said.
Hemze said that for Carver County, the time has come to elevate security to the next level for the courts building. “It’s one of those tough issues where you can never seemingly do enough and you’re never going to be 100 percent secure,” he said, “but you definitely want to do as much as you can afford.”
Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388