Sen. Franken introduces bill to improve courthouse securityby Conrad Wilson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Cloud, Minn. — U.S. Sen. Al Franken introduced legislation Tuesday to improve safety in smaller courthouses throughout the country.
The bill would allow used security equipment from the federal government to go to local courthouses. The bill also clarifies that money from two federal grants can be used to improve courthouse safety and encourages local law enforcement to take advantage of federal training programs.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar as well as Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark, are co-sponsoring the bill. The bill heads next to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but hearings haven't been scheduled yet.
A recent analysis by MPR News revealed courthouse safety is inconsistent throughout the state.
Two people were shot at the Cook County courthouse when a man convicted in a trial there opened fire. Franken cited that case as one reason for his bill.
"This is really in reaction to what happened in Grand Marais," Franken said. "And then once that happened in December, we started looking into this and really saw that there's a disparity in security at courthouses between rural and suburban courthouses and urban."
Franken hopes the legislation moves forward this year.
"I think there's a very good chance this will pass. I don't think this is a controversial bill," the Minnesota Democrat said. "Again, its totally bi-partisan, it's completely common sense and it doesn't cost anything."