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Hubbard County receives grant for courthouse security improvements

Hubbard County is one of 57 Minnesota counties to receive grants to improve courthouse safety.

Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea announced the award of $1 million in grants through the Safe and Secure Courthouse Initiative. The grant funding will go towards the implementation of safety and security improvements in 57 county courthouses across Minnesota.

Hubbard County was awarded $14,998 and those monies are being applied to the purchase of an x-ray machine, Court Administrator Camille Bessler reported. The machine will be located at the bailiff station in the courts area. This device will support the use of the current magnetometer, but allow the search of purses, briefcases, bags etc.

"The Hubbard County Security Committee is so grateful for the opportunity to improve our security in Hubbard County," Bessler said, crediting Chief Deputy Scott Parks as the grant writer.

Safe and Secure Courthouse Initiative grants help fund a variety of courthouse security improvements across the state, including:

• Helping counties conduct professional security assessments of their facilities

• Providing security training to courthouse officials and staff

• Installing bullet-resistant glass at public service counters

• Replacing aging security equipment

• Implementing door locks, cameras, key card readers, and duress alarms

• Installing or upgrading security screening stations at courthouse entrances

Grant awards ranged from $514 to nearly $68,000. Of the 57 awarded grants, 13 were for less than $5,000, and eight were for more than $25,000. As required by law, each county will provide a dollar-for-dollar match for its grant award, in either cash or in-kind services.

"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 Chief Justice Gildea. "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. This is truly an access to justice issue, and Minnesotans deserve to feel safe when coming to court, accessing government services, or fulfilling their duties as citizens and taxpayers."

The Safe and Secure Courthouse Initiative was established by Chief Justice Gildea and funded by a $1 million appropriation from the Minnesota Legislature in 2016. The grant program was based on a legislative proposal brought forward by the Courthouse Security Workgroup, a statewide coalition of county and justice system partners convened by Chief Justice Gildea in 2014. The Workgroup included representatives from the Minnesota Judicial Branch, the Association of Minnesota Counties, the Minnesota Sheriffs' Association, the Minnesota County Attorneys Association, the Minnesota Board of Public Defense, and the Minnesota Inter-County Association.

Following passage of legislative funding for the program, Chief Justice Gildea formed an Advisory Panel to oversee the grant application and award process. Grant applications were accepted between January 2017 and March 2017.

In total, the Advisory Panel received grant requests from 59 counties, totaling more than $3.5 million — three-and-a-half times the amount appropriated by the Legislature. Of the 57 counties receiving a grant award, 24 received their full requested amount and 33 received partial awards.

"It is clear from the volume of grant requests we received that there is a tremendous need for improved courthouse security in every corner of Minnesota," said Blue Earth County Commissioner Will Purvis, who chairs the Association of Minnesota Counties Public Safety Policy Committee and served on the grant Advisory Panel. "Our courthouses serve a vital community purpose, and house important functions of both state and local government. We look forward to building upon this new state and local partnership and continuing to seek ways to ensure the safety of the people who work in and visit our county courthouses."