Bill aims to improve courthouse security

February 8, 2012

Washington – In light of recent courtroom shootings that have injured law enforcement and judicial personnel, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) introduced a bill Feb. 7 to increase security at local courthouses.

The Local Courthouse Safety Act (S. 2076) would provide local courts with access to security equipment that federal agencies no longer use, give states more flexibility in using federal grant money for courthouse security, and authorize a Justice Department initiative to provide training to local law enforcement officers on anticipating violent encounters.

“The local courthouse is a workplace for many people,” Franken said on the Senate floor when introducing the legislation. “But … local courthouses can be dangerous places.”

In separate 2011 courthouse shootings, an Arkansas judge’s secretary was killed, and a prosecutor, witness and bailiff were wounded in Minnesota. An incident also occurred in Indiana in which a defendant was killed by police after walking into a court and pointing a gun. None of these courthouses had metal detectors, according to Franken.

The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. John Boozman (R-AR) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).