Marshall County Courthouse Receives Long-Awaited Security Upgrades

Photo by Alan Olson Craig Kornetti, left, and Shaun Flanegin guard the sole entrance to the Marshall County Courthouse after security upgrades added a metal detector and X-ray machine to the building.

A plan several years in the making concluded last week with the establishment of a new security system at the Marshall County Courthouse.

The building used to have numerous entrances. Now, one door of the main entrance remains as the sole ingress into the building, where a roped walkway through a metal detector and X-ray machine is manned by two court security officers. County administrator Betsy Frohnapfel said the county had been discussing the matter with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office and the county’s judges, among others.

“It was a group decision — not all court officials wanted the courthouse locked down with one entrance,” Frohnapfel said. “But just like in any area, we polled them all. The majority wanted the secure entrance, so we proceeded.”

The metal detector and X-ray machine were purchased last fall. More recently, two new part-time security personnel were hired to staff the station, while two formerly part-time employees were moved up to full-time.

Frohnapfel said the general reception among people she has spoken with has been overwhelmingly positive. Many have said the change was long overdue, and others had been asking for the increased security.

Security officer Shaun Flanegin said reception was mostly positive, but there were a few curmudgeons who grumbled over the change. However, in just the first week, Flanegin said they had already stopped weapons from coming into the building.

“We’ve already stopped two handguns from coming in within the past week, and a good three-dozen pen knives, pocket knives,” Flanegin said. “They’re not carrying them maliciously. They’re concealed carry people, farmers. When you’re rural, everyone has a pocket knife. It’s just not something you want roaming around in here.

“Any improvement is good,” he said. “New security was much needed and long overdue. … The one point of ingress is perfect.”

The existing security checkpoint to get into the courtroom itself remains in place. Frohnapfel said that was intentional for added security. Employees and staff members have key cards to allow them free access to the building.

“It’s not without bugs — we have a door we’re still waiting on a booster for, but it’s just little things,” she said.

Frohnapfel said the combined cost of the equipment came in at under $50,000, while the new part-time employees will work variable hours at the part-time wage of $15.75 per hour.

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