Courthouse metal detector use varies across Minn.

By Elizabeth Dunbar

Among rural Minnesota counties that have metal detectors for their courthouses, most only use them for certain court cases and do not have a permanent staff person dedicated to overseeing the metal detector.

Chisago County bought a new metal detector for its courthouse a few years ago and paid about $4,000 for it, Sheriff Rick Duncan said.

Duncan said it’s used so infrequently that the cost of staffing it just comes out of the sheriff department’s regular budget, and he did not have a breakdown of how much Chisago County has spent staffing it in the past year. But he said if it were specifically billed, staffing it would involve paying two sheriff’s deputies an overtime rate of $42-$44/hour each. One deputy monitors the people going through the metal detector to see if they set off the alarm; the other visually inspects purses, briefcases and metal items court visitors remove from their pockets.

The cost of staffing a courthouse metal detector varies greatly based on how often and for what purpose it is used. Duncan said if it’s used for an entire trial, it might need to be staffed for long hours as visitors, attorneys and jurors go in and out of court.

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