Local courthouse upgrades security after being found ‘unsecure’ by feds

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BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- It's a story we first brought you one year ago, a local county beefing up security at its courthouse.

New security measures have now been put in place, keeping staff and visitors safe.

In 2011, a study by the U.S. Marshals the Jackson County Courthouse “unsecure”.

The feds had problems with the amount of entrances, unprotected access to the courtroom, and open office service windows, leaving workers vulnerable.

“Even though they saw deficiencies in this study, they gave us the opportunity to improve those,” said Jackson County Sheriff Duane Waldera.

Sheriff Waldera said right now, most of those security upgrades have already been put into place.

One of the biggest upgrades is a security checkpoint outside the courtroom.

“A work station, separation barrier and a metal detector; that allows us to screen people that are going to be entering our courts,” Sheriff Waldera said.

The sheriff said you'll also notice more deputies assigned to the building.

“If we don't have a law enforcement presence over there, we sometimes don't deter much. People still tend to act out and their emotions get the best of them,” Sheriff Waldera said.

When WEAU 13 News visited was at the courthouse last year, the window to the Clerk of Court’s office was wide open.

Now there's bullet-proof glass.

“Lots of times people will come out of the courtroom and have arguments right in front of our office. Just the fact people coming up to the window, you just never know,” Clerk of Court Jan Moennig said.

The Clerk of Court said her employees are feeling safer.

And although there's a barrier, communication with visitors has improved.

The security upgrades will be continuing in the coming months, with other offices getting similar protection.

“I think the county has been very proactive and definitely is concerned not only for the employees but the people who come to our courthouse too, there safety as well,” Moennig said.

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