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Area counties receive grants to improve courthouse security

REGIONAL -- Several southwest Minnesota counties will receive assistance to improve courthouse security through the Safe and Secure Courthouse Initiative.

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Nobles County's Prairie Justice Center will soon undergo improvements to its security features, thanks to grant funding from the Safe and Secure Courthouse Initiative. (Martina Baca / The Globe)

REGIONAL - Several southwest Minnesota counties will receive assistance to improve courthouse security through the Safe and Secure Courthouse Initiative.

Nobles, Jackson, Murray and Cottonwood counties are among 57 grant recipients. Each county applied for the funds in March to get up to a 50 percent match in grant money for their projects.

“The Safe and Secure Courthouse Initiative marks the first time in history that Minnesota has taken a statewide approach to addressing the issue of courthouse security,” said Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea in a statement announcing the grant recipients last week. “This is an important step forward for our justice system, and one that will serve to better protect the thousands of Minnesotans who enter their local courthouses every day.”

Cottonwood County requested approximately $30,000 to make several improvements and add security enhancements throughout its courthouse.  

“We are adding more security cameras, glass improvements and a secure door to the court administration,” said Cottonwood County Sheriff Jason Purrington. “We are also going to purchase a metal detector.”

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He said there are still some issues that won’t be addressed, but it’s a step in the right direction.

“It should make things safer for everybody who uses the courthouse, whether it’s for visiting, business or work,” Purrington said.

Nobles County requested $215,000, but Sheriff Kent Wilkening said he doesn't know yet how much will be covered by the grant. The project includes constructing a security screening booth with a metal detector at the entrance of the Prairie Justice Center. In addition, glass improvements at the probation and courts areas are also part of the upgrades.

“We are just trying to make sure that nothing happens over in courts and make sure that nobody brings something that they are not supposed to be bringing,” Wilkening said. He wants to have all the improvements done by November.

Jackson County received a smaller grant, with $8,000 going toward repairing door locks in the courtroom and glass improvements around the building.

“It’s certainly extremely helpful because, for rural counties like ours, money is tight so any help from the state is welcome,” Jackson County Sheriff Shawn Haken said.

A call placed to the Murray County Sheriff’s Office for comment was not returned.

Related Topics: CRIME
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