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Legislation combats courthouse violence with added security

U.S. Senator 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.

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.

"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," said Franken.

"I will never forget the tragic courthouse shooting we had in the Hennepin County Government Center and our resulting prosecution and enhanced security measures," said Senator Amy 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 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," said Senator John Boozman, who was also an original sponsor of the 2012 bill.

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.

• Cut through bureaucratic red tape, giving local courts access to excess federal security equipment, such as metal detectors and screening devices.

The Local Courthouse Safety Act is also cosponsored by Senators 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.).