Sen. Franken Introduces Bill to Combat Violence in Local Courtrooms
In response to the dramatic rise in local courthouse violence across the nation—including a shooting in December at the Cook County Courthouse in Grand Marais during which several people were wounded—U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has introduced the Local Courthouse Safety Act to improve security at smaller courthouses.
Sen. Franken’s legislation would address security concerns, like a lack of screening equipment and training at local courthouses, by giving courthouses access to the resources they need to improve security. Many local courthouses, especially in rural and suburban areas, lack even basic security measures like metal detectors.
“Under no circumstances should our local sheriffs or court personnel have to put their lives at risk to ensure that the basic acts of our judicial system get carried out,” said Sen. Franken. “My legislation will give courtrooms access to the basic resources they need to make sure that every Minnesotan's day in court is safe.”
The Local Courthouse Safety Act would:
- Provide local courts with access to security training;
- Give states authority to use existing grant money to improve courthouse security; and
- Cut through bureaucratic red tape, giving local courts access to excess federal security equipment, such as metal detectors and screening devices.
Sen. Franken’s bill has been endorsed in Minnesota by The Minnesota Sheriffs' Association, The Minnesota County Attorneys Association, The President of the Association of Minnesota Counties, The Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, The Minnesota State Court Administrator, Cook County Commissioner Sue Hakes, Cook County Sheriff Mark Falk, Cook County Board Chair Janice Hall, The Center for Judicial and Executive Security, and WATCH Minnesota. Nationally, it has been endorsed by The National Sheriffs' Association, The Conference of Chief Justices, and The Conference of State Court Administrators.