I just finished a story that focused on the possibility that Hennepin County will increase security measures at three suburban court buildings. This morning, a source sent me copies of letters exchanged between Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek and Chief Judge James Swenson. Stanek, who has repeatedly called for metal detectors at all court facilities, writes to Swenson that he has an interim security solution, but doesn’t offer details. In a letter dated Jan. 6, Stanek asks for a standing order from the court to require screening or a change to the county’s security policies. However, that change would have to be approved by the Hennepin County Board.
Swenson replied five days later that while he agreed with Stanek that screening should be extended to all court buildings, he didn’t think a court order was necessary. But Swenson said he would be willing to sign such an order, provided that the sheriff offered assurances that his office can “provide additional safety at the suburban locations without diverting resources already committed to court security elsewhere.”
Hennepin County Board chair Mike Opat says he expects to the board to see Stanek’s proposal sometime next week.
Also here’s a breakdown for how much the county spends each year on weapons screening. The numbers cover personnel costs, equipment maintenance for the metal detectors. But they don’t include the costs for Sheriff’s deputies who also provide security throughout court buildings.
Government Center: $895,000
Family Justice Center: $150,000
Juvenile Justice Center: $240,000
Public Safety Center (also known as the jail – but it contains three courtrooms): $325,000
County officials say it will be hard to estimate how much it will cost to add screening to the three suburban courthouses because some of the buildings have multiple entrances.