Chippewa Falls, WI (WEAU) -- Last night, the Chippewa County Board approved spending $214,000 to increase security in the courthouse. The money comes from the county's sales tax fund.
The county courthouse is looking to improve security, not just on the building but by updating security policies and procedures among the staff as well. County Administrator, Frank Pascarella, says the updates are meant to help to community.
Pascarella says, “It's a long term commitment on the county to not only protect the employees that work here but also the citizens that come into the building.”
County reports show the Chippewa County Courthouse had 91 calls for assistance in the courtroom last year, and another 67 for duress in the courthouse. That's why Pascarella says it needs an upgraded security system.
Pascarella says, “Fortunately we haven't had the tragic events that you see on national TV, and I don't know if we can ever eliminate those from happening, but we certainly can minimize the impact it has on the employees and the public that come in the building."
The Chippewa County Board approved spending $214,000 for an integrated security program, along with authorizing the $330,000 from the 2013-2014 capital improvements funds. Pascarella says the funds will be used for a variety of improvements.
“We're looking at items like electronic locks on the exterior of the building, new lock system for certain areas of the courthouse, new cameras, a new camera system.
We're also looking at cameras associated with our towers.” Pascarella says.
Pascarella says the improvements will be made over several phases with different phases addressing certain issues. The first phase will update the most concerning areas.
Pascarella says ,"Number one, a court commissioner's office will be approved. We'll have improvements to child support so that the child support office will have some electric lock hardware. We’ll replace card readers, and there will be the tunnel upgrade, that transitions people from the jail up to the court system."
Pascarella says he estimates the program will take seven to ten years, but says the work is worth it.
“We certainly can take steps to minimize all of these activities from taking place within our court house and protect the people.” Pascarella says.
Pascarella also says the updates won't begin until the County Board approves two separate resolutions in August for funding in 2015. The first for $150,000 annually for the security program and another $64,000 for the remainder of the court commissioner remodel.