By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU – (Updated, 3:16 p.m.) In the wake of a lockdown at the Marathon County Courthouse, members of the public safety committee on Wednesday agreed to significantly tighten security at the facility.
On April 7 five judges, along with Marathon County Sheriff Scott Parks, District Attorney Theresa Wetzsteon, Corporation Counsel Scott Corbett and other courthouse officials sent a letter to County Administrator Brad Karger, Board Chairman Kurt Gibbs and Vice-Chair Lee Peek demanding the change. The letter, obtained Wednesday by Wausau Pilot & Review, outlines a formal request for security upgrades — one that has been conveyed on numerous occasions over the past several years.
Current resources are not adequate to meet the “real security needs of the entire courthouse,” according to the letter. “Quite frankly, the public and all people coming to do business in the courthouse have a right to feel safe in this environment.”
The letter was dated two days after an empty gun holster was found in a courthouse bathroom, prompting an evacuation and lockdown of the facility. Immediate and long-term improvements are planned, including possibly screening entrants to the facility and limiting the number of entrances, officials said.
The lockdown was particularly unsettling to workers in light of a mass shooting March 22 that led to the deaths of five people, including an Everest Metro police detective. officials said.
“Recent events have served to again highlight the need for improved security in the courthouse,” the letter reads. “We routinely deal with individuals in high conflict and stressful matters including family law and divorce cases, domestic violence incidents and gun-related charges. All individuals coming into the courthouse should be properly screened through a single entrance by appropriate security apparatus and trained officers before admission.”
Read the full letter here: courthouse security request
The public safety committee unanimously approved a plan to implement immediate and long-term upgrades that could include screening entrants to the facility and limiting the number of unlocked entrances, officials said.
Members of the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department are now working on a new security plan, officials said after the meeting.