Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) reintroduced the Local Courthouse Safety Act to improve security at smaller courthouses. He originally introduced the legislation following a 2011 shooting at the Cook County Courthouse in Grand Marais that injured three, including the Cook County Attorney.
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.
"Minnesota's local sheriffs and courthouse personnel make our communities stronger and safer, and they shouldn't have to put their lives on the line to do their jobs," said Sen. Franken. "My legislation will give courthouses all over the state access to the resources they need to keep our justice system safe for everyone, and I'm going to keep fighting to pass it into law."
"I will never forget the tragic courthouse shooting we had in the Hennepin County Government Center and our resulting prosecution and enhanced security measures. We've seen this violence continue in other parts of our state with the shooting at the Cook County Courthouse two years ago," said Sen. Klobuchar, who was an original sponsor of the 2012 measure. "These horrific acts underscore the importance of taking action to keep our local courthouses safe, and this legislation is a critical step to improve security and prevent future tragedies."
"As we know too well in Arkansas, there is an elevated risk of violence in courthouses," said Sen. Boozman, who was also an original sponsor of the 2012 bill. "We saw this when a gunman walked in to the Crawford County Courthouse, opened fire and was ultimately stopped before killing anyone by swift-acting law enforcement officers. As we look for fiscally responsible ways in which Washington can help our towns and cities protect their courthouses, it makes perfect sense to allow them to use existing federal money to improve courthouse safety. This bill is the smart way to give law enforcement the tools they need to help to stop these unnecessary acts of violence in our courthouses."
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.
Last year, when Sen. Franken originally 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. The Local Courthouse Safety Act is also cosponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).