Olmsted County Board commissioners approve weapons screening for - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Olmsted County Board commissioners approve weapons screening for Government Center

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- The Olmsted County Board commissioners unanimously approved an option Tuesday to construct weapons screening stations in the Government Center. 

Discussions for adding weapons screening at the Government Center began two years ago after an individual smuggled a razor blade into a courtroom and proceeded to cause self-inflicted wounds.
  
A variety of solutions have been considered since then including myriad architectural designs, using deputies for roaming screening, and nothing at all.  Commissioners ultimately decided they could not put a price on security.

The installation of weapons screening stations will be on the second floor of the Government Center to ramp up security measures.

"The importance of it is safety, being proactive about security in a courthouse setting," said Olmsted County Board President, Matt Flynn. "That's the main concern here of what we're going to do. We have never done nothing like that since this has been built."

The addition includes a tower in the front of the building with a new elevator and stairwell for all six floors. It also includes upgrades to current elevators. It poses the question: how will it change how we get around Government Center?

"If you wish to go to the second floor and above, citizens will have to go through a metal detector and go by security people to see if they have something they shouldn't have on them or be carrying to get any farther up into this public building," said Flynn.

The approved plan is the priciest option, at $5.7 million, but one commissioners say will make the most sense in the future.

"It alleviates some space problems, it's more than just weapons screening which is why it's a worthy project to support," said County Board Commissioner, Ken Brown.

Flynn added the construction in the selected plan would be ideal if the Government Center ever considered other additions to the building, and that the plans are conducive to planning of other future projects.

The new weapon screening will look similar to what you see at the airport in security lines, and will require four extra officers to operate the equipment. No other county buildings in southeast Minnesota have this kind of system, but the project will be one with a lasting impact.

"We need to weigh the risks and not overreact, not overbuild, not do more than absolutely necessary, because I view it as an investment in risk avoidance," said County Board Commissioner, Sheila Kiscaden.

The process to draw up blueprints with architects could take several months before the bidding process begins.
  
Flynn said construction could start as early as the end of this year, but that process could take at least ten months to complete.
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