Press Releases

WASHINGTON-U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) helped Sens. Al Franken (D-MN) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) reintroduce the Local Courthouse Safety Act to improve security at smaller courthouses. Franken originally introduced the legislation following a 2011 shooting at the Cook County Courthouse in Grand Marais that injured three, including the Cook County Attorney.

Boozman, the lead Republican sponsor of the bill, was prompted to join Franken and Klobuchar to introduce an early version of the bill after James Ray Palmer entered the Crawford County Courthouse with intentions of shooting the judge in September 2011. The court was not in session and the judge was not there, so, according to police, Palmer began firing randomly shooting Vickie Jones, secretary of the circuit judge, in the leg. Palmer was shot and killed by the responding officers.

The Local Courthouse Safety Act would help prevent these acts of violence in our courthouses by addressing security concerns, like a lack of screening equipment and training at local courthouses, by giving courthouses access to the resources they need to improve security. Many local courthouses, especially in rural and suburban areas, lack even basic security measures like metal detectors.

"As we know too well in Arkansas, there is an elevated risk of violence in courthouses," said Boozman. "We saw this when a gunman walked in to the Crawford County Courthouse, opened fire and was ultimately stopped before killing anyone by swift-acting law enforcement officers. As we look for fiscally responsible ways in which Washington can help our towns and cities protect their courthouses, it makes perfect sense to allow them to use existing federal money to improve courthouse safety. This bill is the smart way to give law enforcement the tools they need to help to stop these unnecessary acts of violence in our courthouses."

"Minnesota's local sheriffs and courthouse personnel make our communities stronger and safer, and they shouldn't have to put their lives on the line to do their jobs," said Franken. "My legislation will give courthouses all over the state access to the resources they need to keep our justice system safe for everyone, and I'm going to keep fighting to pass it into law."

"I will never forget the tragic courthouse shooting we had in the Hennepin County Government Center and our resulting prosecution and enhanced security measures. We’ve seen this violence continue in other parts of our state with the shooting at the Cook County Courthouse two years ago," said Klobuchar. "These horrific acts underscore the importance of taking action to keep our local courthouses safe, and this legislation is a critical step to improve security and prevent future tragedies."

 The Local Courthouse Safety Act would: 

  • Provide local courts with access to security training;
  • Give states authority to use existing grant money to improve courthouse security; and
  • Cut through bureaucratic red tape, giving local courts access to excess federal security equipment, such as metal detectors and screening devices.

The Local Courthouse Safety Act is also cosponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).