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Sen. Franken's Bill to Improve Courthouse Safety Clears Important Hurdle; Legislation Now Moves to Full Senate

Last Year's Shooting at Cook County Courthouse Spurred Senator Franken to Author Legislation

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.)'s Local Courthouse Safety Act – which he introduced in response to a December courthouse shooting in Grand Marais – was passed with strong bipartisan support by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill now heads to the full Senate for debate. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, (D-Minn.) is a cosponsor of the bill.
“Our local sheriffs, judges, and other court personnel, as well as the public, should be able to carry on business in our local courthouses knowing they are safe," said Sen. Franken. "My legislation will give courthouses the resources they need to keep people safe, and I'm pleased that it will move to the Senate floor. I'll continue fighting to make sure every Minnesotan's day in court is safe."
"I will never forget the tragic courthouse shooting we had in the Hennepin County Government Center and our resulting prosecution and enhanced security measures," said Sen. Klobuchar. "The recent shooting at the Cook County Courthouse demonstrates that more needs to be done to keep local courthouses safe, and today’s action is good news for this bill that will help improve security and prevent future violence."

Many local courthouses, especially in rural and suburban areas, lack even basic security measures like metal detectors. The Local Courthouse Safety Act would address security concerns by:

  • Providing local courts with access to security training;
  • Giving states authority to use existing grant money to improve courthouse security; and
  • Cutting through bureaucratic red tape, giving local courts access to excess federal security equipment, such as metal detectors and screening devices. 

In addition to Sens. Franken and Klobuchar, the Local Courthouse Safety Act is cosponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
In February, when Sen. Franken introduced the Local Courthouse Safety Act, he delivered a speech on the Senate floor urging his colleagues to support the legislation. You can find video of that speech here. In April, he held a meeting with law enforcement and court officials – including Cook County attorney Tim Scannell, who was severely injured in a courthouse shooting in Grand Marais – to discuss his legislation. You can find more information on the Local Courthouse Safety Act here.

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