There are plans in place to enhance security at the Missoula County Courthouse in steps that will take several years to accomplish.

Chief Operating Officer Chris Lounsbury says as the courthouse begins to reopen more fully after being shut down due to COVID 19, there will be some security upgrades.

“The commissioners are looking at kind of a multi-year approach to do some security upgrades,” said Lounsbury. “As you know, we just recently finished the renovations of the courthouse to restore it kind of to its historic grandeur but one of the things that presents challenges about it is that there are a lot of entrances and of course it's a super public facing building with lots of folks coming in and out all day long between motor vehicles, the treasurer’s office and the courts.”

The courthouse deals with all of the district court matters, and so that can be everything from dependent neglect to child custody issues to also involuntary commitments. They deal with just a variety of folks who are having difficult problems or different challenges throughout the community and we want them to be safe as well when they're in our space.

Lounsbury provided some details of the proposed security upgrades.

“The commissioners are looking at is doing some upgrades to the building that will help enhance that security,” he said. “That will start over this next year with the installation of video surveillance cameras in those general public areas. So, for waiting rooms and hallways in general to see movement around that area, as well as the construction of a security and information desk. So if you've been to the Capitol at all similar to what you see, when you go into the Capitol Building in Helena, you come through the doors and there's a place where you can get information on where's the room that you're looking for, and also somebody who's looking at those video monitors just to make sure that everything's safe.”

Lounsbury said the courthouse is not just the place to get license plates. There are trials and hearings in the courtrooms that often host difficult physical confrontations.

“Our courts deal with all kinds of cases,” he said. “The courthouse deals with all of the district court matters, and so that can be everything from dependent neglect to child custody issues to also involuntary commitments. They deal with just a variety of folks who are having difficult problems or different challenges throughout the community and we want them to be safe as well when they're in our space, and know that they're going to be taken care of too.”

Lounsbury said the security upgrades will not detract from the historic atmosphere of the Missoula County Courthouse.