Courthouse begins implementing new security measures

By Keri Solis
As part of phase one of a new security plan for the Marquette County Courthouse, certified law enforcement staff are now patrolling the court services division of the building, along with hallways and other office areas.
An officer will be present during regular working hours, and as needed after hours. In addition to greeting courthouse patrons and helping with guiding them to the proper office, the officer will be available for immediate response to any disturbance in the building.

The new process comes as a result of safety audits and is designed to help protect both employees and guests. While there haven’t been any incidents in Marquette County to cause reason for immediate concern, throughout the country in recent months there have been several incidents that have put lives at risk.

With courthouse security being a concern of the county board, money was set aside through the bonding for the communications project to begin implementing a plan to make the area more secure.

A new welcome center is expected to start construction this summer, which will begin phase two of the project. Once completed, those entering the courthouse will be screened for weapons and contraband. The welcome center will be located on the south side of the building. This project is currently in the bidding process, with the final approval to move forward expected at the March monthly county board meeting.

Once the welcome center is complete, visitors will enter through the welcome center and employees will have an entrance on the north side of the building. Employees have also been issued new name badges that are to be worn to help officers quickly distinguish employees from other citizens.

 “We are getting nothing but positive feedback from citizens and employees,” stated Sheriff Kim Gaffney. “The county board has been very supportive of this project and I really appreciate that. We want to be proactive and prevent incidents, not reactionary.”

Clerk of Circuit Court Shari Rudolph commented on the project, stating that, “Having the presence of an officer in the courtroom makes it easier for us and will help calm a lot of situations.” She recalled at her previous place of employment, “I came from a different building that had that…When people see an officer, it diffuses a situation.”

Along with the extra staff and a new welcome center comes training for courthouse employees on “Active Trouble.” The training is being put together by Emergency Management Director Gary Skolarz. It will run employees through scenarios that can range from parties who are upset over a major custody dispute, up to the worst-case scenario of an active shooter on the premises.