Extra security at courthouse will continue as needed: Metal detector fee is $550 a week, but staffing costs not yet determined

Shawano Leader, Wisconsin/November 20, 2008

Security measures being taken at the Shawano County Courthouse will continue "as long as we need it," county chairman Marshal Giese said Wednesday.

Giese talked about the beefed-up security during the monthly County Board meeting.

He said he was informed prior to the news breaking last week of an FBI investigation into an alleged threat list against 60 Shawano area residents.

According to authorities, there are a number of local government officials on the list.

In the wake of the alleged threat and the city of Shawano’s decision to tighten security, "I took it upon myself to get security for this building," Giese said.

Giese said it was a top priority to protect county employees and people who do business at the courthouse.

The metal detector at the south entrance to the courthouse - the other two entrances have been closed off - costs the county $550 per week.

It is rented two weeks at a time at a cost of $1,100, according to building maintenance supervisor Steve Dreher.

County administrative coordinator Frank Pascarella said the rental of the metal detector has been extended an additional two weeks.

The county has had test runs of tighter security with a metal detector in the past and has looked at purchasing one.

Pascarella said the cost would be around $3,750.

However, that doesn’t take into account the manpower.

The entrance has been manned by sheriff’s deputies since the metal detector was put in place early last week.

Capt. Tom Tuma said the cost in terms of manpower has not yet been assessed because the status and pay rates of the deputies have varied.

Some of the deputies were pulled off other duties during their regular shifts, but there was also some overtime and "supplemental" staffing, Tuma said.

Pascarella said there has been $1,700 in additional part-time staffing costs since the metal detector was employed.

He said there have also been indirect and uncalculated costs of additional staff time and having to reschedule meetings previously held at the courthouse during the evenings.

There have been no evening meetings allowed since the new security measures were put in place.

Not all county board members at Wednesday’s meeting were enamored of the tighter security.

Supervisor Marlin Noffke questioned whether the measures were effective given that some officials believed to be on the supposed threat list are unescorted when they leave the courthouse.

Noffke said he personally doesn’t feel threatened, adding, "I hope we don’t get into a pillbox, bunker-type mentality."

A county committee is continuing to look into more permanent solutions to courthouse security - something that has long been of concern to officials.

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