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Ballston gets money for security upgrades

The Town of Ballston received a state grant from the State Justice Court Assistance Program to update security and equipment in its courts.

The town was awarded $14,905 to install a metal detector and cameras in the parking lot of the Town Court.

There is a need for it, said Town Justice Cynthia Amrhein.

She said in the past that she has received untraceable death threats and encountered irate, sometimes even drunken individuals.

"You don't know what people will do," she said.

Amrhein said that in talking with fellow town justices who use metal detectors, she has become aware of the frequency in which people bring weapons to court.

She said sometimes people inadvertently bring weapons like Swiss Army knives into the courtroom, which puts the court's staff in danger.

The courtroom, as it is designed, provides the justice and clerk little security during proceedings. According to Amrhein, it would be difficult to escape if someone were to attack them because a high wall blocks the exit and the space is tight, preventing ease of movement.

A security guard, hired through an outside contractor, does monitor the door during proceedings.

"Local justice courts play a critical role in ensuring the prompt, fair and effective adjudication of justice for all citizens," said Assemblyman James Tedisco, R- Schenectady. "These valuable grant awards will aid our local justice courts throughout Saratoga and Schenectady counties in continuing to serve as important elements of our legal system that are often closest and most responsive to people."

Town Supervisor Patti Southworth recently discussed the safety of the town's court staff, and said she was pleased to see that the justice department applied for grant funding.

"I am happy to hear we received the grant for our justice department," said Southworth. "Applying for these grants is often a labor-intensive process, and I want to thank the employees of the court for their hard work and diligence in preparing the application."

Southworth said she would like to establish a grant research and application committee in the town, and that she will be working with the town council to create a committee.

She also said she plans to ask the town council to approve a contract for a grant writer to help with securing funds for the town.

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