Rock Co. officials look into arming courthouse security guards

JANESVILLE, Wis (WMTV) - Security guards who screen the more than 1,500 Rock Co. Courthouse visitors a day could start carrying guns.

This director of facilities management for Rock Co., Brent Sutherland, said Global Security Services, the company hired to supply guards for the courthouse, proposed the idea.

Sutherland said arming courthouse security guards would be part of a greater effort to improve safety in the building.

He said starting last year they have updated the cameras, added card access to the doors and more. Part of the building is currently under construction in order to move security screening is moved to the front entrance. Sutherland said adding armed guards could take it all a step further.

“I tried to gather feedback from all the different entities in their position on us upgrading to armed officers. So, the first part was the General Services Committee to make a resolution,” he said.

Cmdr. Craig Strouse with the Rock Co. Sheriff’s Office helped review the security company’s proposal.

“We reviewed their policies and we reviewed the company in general, met with them, and we found that what they have appears reasonable,” Strouse said.

Rock Co. Administrator Josh Smith told NBC15 he had concerns, and said it is important to find a balance between security and a welcoming environment. He said security guards carrying guns could negatively impact people wanting to come in for county services.

The move would also cost the county $13,000.

Strouse said the decision is completely in the county board’s hands.
“In a perfect world, we would man it. But, it’s a funding issue. If the county government decides to have security guards go armed at the front, great, we are fine with it and are comfortable with the decision. If they decide to not, that is fine too,” he said.

According to a Jan. 30 county memo from Sutherland, several Circuit Courts provide armed Sheriff’s Deputies including Sheboygan, Winnebago and Marathon.

Sutherland is for the proposal, and said he believes this is the right move in light of today’s climate.

Sutherland said he will draft a resolution for the proposal in case the General Services Committee approves it on Feb. 19. It would then go to the County Board for approval.