Sheriff concerned about security measures

With another veteran bailiff retiring, and two new district court judges coming on board soon, Sheriff Brent Lindgren told county commissioners on Feb. 7 that he’s wondering what direction to take for court security, transportation, etc.

Bailiff Janet Johnson retired at the end of 2011 and that means Lindgren has lost three experienced bailiffs in the past few years.

The only one remaining is former Princeton policeman Don Hubbard, usually scheduled for 20-plus hours a week.

“Over the years we have been filling in [for bailiffs]  with court security deputies who are licensed to do more things,” Lindgren said in an interview Monday. “I just want to take a look at things.”

With the retirement of Judge Steve Ruble on Dec. 31, Sarah Hennesy of St. Cloud will be seated in March and in July another judge will be added to the court to try to help pare down the ever-increasing backlog of cases.

“I’d like to get together with the judges, probation, the county attorney and court administrator and see what everyone requires,” Lindgren said.

Lindgren told commissioners last week that there could be multiple trials going on at once and that there might be transportation issues.

“Sixty percent of the court calendar is criminal cases and that can mean transportation issues for prisoners,” he said.

Two weeks ago, when there was a homicide trial in Milaca, Lindgren had nine officers on duty for security and to move prisoners and witnesses in and out of the courtroom.

About 60,000 people went through the metal detector at the county’s new justice center in 2011. Most of those came to the probation department, county attorney’s office or to court.

“We need to look at security needs,” Lindgren told commissioners. “Should we move the screening [detector] location? I don’t know”

Lindgren mentioned that family court cases often cause problems. “It often gets contentious,” he said. “That’s a huge issue with some judges.”

“We’re down at least two bailiffs but I don’t honestly know what the impact will be,” he told commissioners. “Should we have a pool of bailiffs or are more deputies needed?”

Lindgren said he hopes to meet this month with the other departments and come back to commissioners next month with an idea of what to do.

“We need to explore all of our options,” he said.