Faribault County eyes safety issue

BLUE EARTH – Faribault County commissioners want all courthouse employees to be safe. On Tuesday, they discussed how to make it so.

Al Hanson and Katie Campbell of the probation office say they work with some people who have the potential to be violent. The duo requested some structural changes to their office.

“We still don’t have a safety precaution,” Hanson said.

He has checked with state officials and they agree the office is unsafe. Hanson suggested using double doors with bullet-proof glass, and installing a window with a slot for sliding papers.

Other facilities have built safety features into their offices, Hanson said, but because the courthouse is a historic building, the county has to be careful how much it changes things.

With probation office employees being both county and state employees, Commissioner Tom Loveall wanted to know if the state is willing to help pay for any upgrades.

“We’re asking if the county will get it started and see if the state will come in,” Hanson said.

“We need to look at something,” said Commissioner Tom Warmka. “We haven’t had a problem yet, but we’re not immune to it. I don’t understand why people are becoming so violent.”

“I agree security precautions need to be made, but they need to be made for the entire facility, not just one office,” said Commissioner Bill Groskreutz.

Loveall recalled that the board has discussed turning the former law enforcement center, just north of the courthouse, into a secure facility. Groskreutz pointed out it would need remodeling, but Loveall said the only part that was a problem was the jail, which wouldn’t be used for office personnel.

“I love our office,” Hanson said. “I love being right here in the courthouse.”

And that’s right where Judge Douglas Richards wants the probation office.

“It’s most convenient to have them here,” said Richards, adding that some people who appear before him need to check in with the probation office; if they have to leave the courthouse to do so, they might get distracted and not make it back to the top floor courtroom.

Sheriff Mike Gormley said a security check had been done on the top floor in the past, but not on the entire building. He volunteered to look into having that done.