State accepting applications for courthouse security grant program
A new grant program aimed at improving the safety and security of Minnesota's courthouses and other court facilities is now accepting applications. The Safe and Secure Courthouse Initiative was established by Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice...
A new grant program aimed at improving the safety and security of Minnesota's courthouses and other court facilities is now accepting applications.
The Safe and Secure Courthouse Initiative was established by Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea and allocated $1 million by the Minnesota Legislature in 2016. Counties and other local government entities that maintain court facilities are eligible to apply, and grants may be used to help pay for security equipment, training, assessments, or other projects that improve the safety and security of a court facility, a news release said. The requesting entity must demonstrate a 50 percent cash or in-kind match from non-state sources.
Applications will be accepted through March 31. An advisory panel of judges, court staff, county officials, and statewide justice partners will review and score applications based on grant criteria. Final award decisions will be made in June.
Establishing the Safe and Secure Courthouse Initiative was the recommendation of the Courthouse Security Workgroup, a statewide coalition of county and justice system partners convened by 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.
Gildea noted the Safe and Secure Courthouse Initiative was developed in the wake of an increase in the number of incidents of courthouse violence being reported across the country. In 2005, the Center for Judicial and Executive Security counted 19 incidents of violent acts in courthouses across the country. In 2011-the year the community of Grand Marais was devastated by the tragic shooting in the Cook County courthouse-that same organization counted more than 90 such incidents.
"From the tragedy in Grand Marais, to violent attacks on public defenders inside our courtrooms, to bomb threats and white powder scares at our court facilities, we know Minnesota is not immune to courthouse violence," Gildea said. "The establishment of the Safe and Secure Courthouse Initiative represents the first time Minnesota has taken a statewide approach to improving courthouse security and addressing this important statewide issue."