Courthouse safety, jail, shooting range up for discussion
By Heather Graves
BROWN COUNTY – Brown County supervisors resumed conversations on courthouse safety at their June 16 board meeting.
With multiple unsecured entries, county courthouse security has been a concern for years.
The pandemic forced the county to utilize a single point of entry for health reasons.
Supervisors fully support the idea but agree the current process isn’t a long-term fix – noting it lacks ample handicap parking spots and doesn’t include external security equipment.
Now, as COVID restrictions begin to loosen, supervisors are again looking for solutions.
Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh said of the top 12 most populous counties in the state, Brown is the only one that doesn’t have courthouse entrance screening.
Courthouse safety, however, isn’t a discussion that stands on its own.
Part of the conversation also includes the sheriff’s office’s shooting range and the downtown jail – both nearing or at the end of their usefulness.
Supervisors approved a recommendation from the joint Public Safety and Planning, Development & Transportation Committee, which loops all three issues together, in terms of discussion.
At the joint committee meeting, Sheriff Todd Delain said the indoor range in the basement of the district attorney’s office, which dates back to the early 1980s, has been rendered obsolete because the circulation system, which removes lead from the air, doesn’t work properly.
Delain said the department had to be creative in finding locations to hold its routine training sessions, but he said it isn’t a long-term solution.
He said it will cost $2,800 to get a repair estimate, with repairs expected to cost around $160,000.
Delain said options need to be explored, and some decisions need to be made.
As far as the replacement, upgrade or removal of the downtown jail – it’s also an issue discussed many times at the board table.
It was mentioned at committee the State Department of Corrections could, at any time, say the downtown facility is no longer usable.
Though no decisions were made by the board on the individual issues, supervisors approved a deeper look into each topic.
The Public Safety Committee and the Planning, Development & Transportation Committee will each choose two committee members to work with staff to develop short- and long-term solutions to courthouse security, the shooting range and the downtown jail.
Recommendations will come back to the full committee, and eventually the full county board when available.
The one-entry access on the north side of the courthouse will continue until a long-term decision is reached.
Supervisors directed corporation counsel to examine county code and clarify attendance and voting options for all ad-hoc committees, subcommittees and/or boards, with the exception of the full county board.
Counsel will draft resoulutions that allow standing committee meetings and subcommittees, if they choose, to offer a virtual attendance option, and voting options for county board members called into active military duty.
The board will vote on them at a future meeting.
In other business, supervisors approved two resolutions pertaining to state issues.
The first, a resolution in support of the new University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Cofrin Technology and Education Center.
The second, asking for legislative action regarding the state statute on sex offender definitions, notifications and placements.
Both resolutions received strong support.