ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- The Olmsted County District Court is the largest court of its kind without a high level of security measures in place. After several cases where security has come into question, new security options are being considered.
It was only a month ago when one man threatened his own life with a weapon inside a courtroom at the Government Center, an event that has called into question current safety measures.
Times are changing, and what that means for Olmsted County District Court is a need to evolve, specifically security.
"We've been experiencing a number of challenges in regards to security over a period of time, and a number of other organizations have, too," said Olmsted County Sheriff David Mueller. "It's time that Olmsted County addresses the security needs for the courts and beyond there for the entire Government Center."
A number of options were presented to the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners in a report about a potential Government Center expansion, but there is a consensus about what the top priority needs to be.
"The most pressing need is to continue to enhance our weapons screening as we access the courts, as we access the building," says Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem. "It's a huge challenge, it's a huge issue."
To improve upon that, the option of machines similar to ones at airports are being proposed on the courtroom levels. Yet, the Government Center is a high-traffic building, servicing many departments.
"We want not to create a clog, if you will, in the system," Sheriff Mueller said. "We want to do what we can to avoid that. That does mean some additional equipment and certainly staff resources as well."
Along with improvements to security comes additional costs, something the county board will need to take into consideration.
"I'm not making a value judgement here," said Jim Bier, chair of the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners. "I'm just saying that when we go out and present this to the public, to our electorate, they'll want to know what it's going to cost, what's going to happen. So, we need to present that, but we do have to do something."
That process for doing something starts now. With the presentation by Sheriff Mueller, the county board will now begin to digest everything that was in the presentation and figure out what the best course of action is for the courtrooms and the Government Center.
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