Montcalm County commissioners discuss adding bulletproof glass to court offices

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 10:58 am on Friday, October 14, 2011

The Montcalm County Clerk's Office in the court complex currently allows visitors inside to speak with employees behind a counter. The Board of Commissioners is discussing placing bulletproof glass around the entire countertop area. (Daily News/Elisabeth Waldon

STANTON — Montcalm County Clerk’s Office and Prosecutor’s Office employees soon may be working behind bulletproof glass.
The future of court security is still unknown, but the Board of Commissioners is being proactive in the meantime.
The Economic Development & Physical Resources Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend that the full board approve installing bulletproof windows in the Clerk’s Office and the Prosecutor’s Office at the court complex.
The Clerk’s Office currently has a door entrance that anyone can enter during regular business hours. Employees work behind a spacious counter that anyone could jump over.
“It’s customer friendly, but not very secure,” summarized Montcalm County Controller-Administrator Chris Hyzer.
Clerk Kristen Millard said the office was built with an open concept in mind. The office is responsible for issuing personal protection orders (PPOs), meaning both the petitioner and the respondent come to that office for all PPO issues.
The office also handles divorce, child custody and child support issues, as well as collects all delinquent fees from probationers.
“As we see the economy get worse we see more PPOs and more hostile attitudes,” Millard said. “It gets very, very volatile. Not only are we dealing with domestic issues that are volatile, but we also work with convicted felons on a daily basis. There’s really no happy issues we deal with in that office.”
She said providing her staff with a safe working environment is important.
Commissioners discussed removing the door entrance to the Clerk’s Office and installing bulletproof glass around the counter.
They also want to install bulletproof glass at the window of the Prosecutor’s Office, which currently is comprised of a small counter with a sliding window. The Prosecutor’s Office door is only accessible to employees.
Court security was set to be eliminated Sept. 26 as part of $1.3 million in county budget cuts, but commissioners voted to continue the service until the end of December while they search for other funding options.
Millard said installing bulletproof glass around her office will be sufficient for employee safety for the time being.
“In order for my staff to get my job done and to protect them and the judicial corridor, I think it’s very important,” she said.
Commissioners agreed.
“I think that’s something we’ve been without for too long,” said District 1 Commissioner Lloyd Walker.
“I can understand why it was built the way it was built,” added District 4 Commissioner John Johansen. “It was a whole different climate 12 years ago than what it is today. Times have changed.”

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