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Stevens County awarded $21,500 for courthouse security improvements

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

County Coordinator Becky Young explained to the county commissioners that the $21,500 is about 75 percent of the county's request through the Safe and Secure Courthouse Initiative.

The goal is to better protect the Minnesotans who enter local courthouses each day to appear before the court, access government services and fulfill their duties as citizens and taxpayers.

Young said the funds will be designated to upgrade security cameras throughout the courthouse and to re-do the security glass for the district court office.

As required by law, each county will provide a dollar-for-dollar match for its grant award, in either cash or in-kind services.

Young said that the county has the option to either levy the funds for the match or using capital reserves.

"I think this is a great opportunity for us to get part of the project funded and my recommendation is to proceed in accepting those funds at the partial amount," Young told the commissioners.

Young shared that the additional security cameras are the number one issue for law enforcement, the county attorney, the court staff and the facility committee. She said there are some areas in the facility that have no coverage from security cameras and that is of "great concern."

Commissioner Bob Kopitzke commented that things have changed since the new courthouse was built, and "everyone is going to more security."

Young agreed, saying "the threat level for law enforcement ... has greatly increased in the past couple of years. Those are things, societally that we had not been able to predict."

Commissioners will vote on the formal agreement for the grant at their July 18 meeting.