Project to improve county attorney’s office security

Contributing Writer

A remodeling project to primarily improve security and safety for the Anoka County Attorney’s Office and its staff was approved by the Anoka County Board Aug. 22.

On the recommendation of the board’s Finance and Capital Improvements Committee, the board awarded a contract to Tarraf Construction, Eden Prairie, in amount not to exceed $305,600.

“The security enhancements are very important,” said County Attorney Tony Palumbo.

The low bid came in under the estimate, according to Andrew Dykstra, county facilities management and construction director. “The budget was $330,000,” Dykstra said.

Under the contract construction will take place in the county attorney’s office which occupies parts of the sixth- and seventh-floors of the Anoka County Government Center, specifically in the reception/lobby, technology and victim and witness service areas.

Sixth- and seventh-floor reception areas security upgrades will include the installation of bullet-proof resistant glass, while on the sixth-floor an additional conference room will be constructed in the non-secure area of the office.

According to Dykstra, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension requires that people passing the secure portion of the office be escorted unless they have been fingerprinted and passed criminal background checks.

Adding the conference room will allow staff to meet visitors outside the secure perimeter, Dykstra said.

The project also includes additional office and work spaces for the technology and victim/witness services areas, plus a larger interview room for victims and witnesses.

Space is limited right now, according to Palumbo.

The security improvements will be paid from drug forfeiture funds received by the county attorney’s office, while the cost of the remainder of the remodeling will come from the county attorney’s operating budget.

Money seized from convicted drug offenders is divided between the county attorney’s office and the law enforcement agency that makes the arrest, Palumbo said.

The threat level for county attorney offices continues to go up, according to County Commissioner Matt Look, who chairs the finance and capital improvements committee.

“The changes in security will allow people to work in a safe environment,” Look said.

While there is a security checkpoint for people entering the Anoka County Courthouse from the government center, there is none at the government center entrances, said County Commissioner Scott Schulte.

The project will be finished by the end of the year, according to Dykstra.