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County improves courthouse security

Champaign deputies have office directly inside courthouse entrance.

Recently completed renovations at the Champaign County Common Pleas Court will provide better customer service for residents and improve security, said Matt Melvin, Champaign County sheriff.

A former jury room on the first floor has been converted into office space where deputies will be able to better monitor who enters and exits the courthouse, and provide services including sheriff sales and managing conceal carry permits. Melvin will also have a new office space inside the courthouse, instead of the previous Miami Street location.

“You come in the front door and it’s basically the first office you’re going to see,” Melvin said.

Previously, deputies performed duties such as conceal carry and sex offender registration in the courthouse basement, where there was less space and no windows. The daily operations will not change, Melvin said, but the renovations will allow residents better access to services like conceal carry if needed. Mediation services will be moved downstairs to the space previously occupied by deputies.

The move will be a positive for deputies as well.

“They appreciate the fresh air they’re able to get, and just see daylight,” Melvin said.

The Champaign County commissioners agreed to pay for the renovations after discussions with the court and law enforcement that began earlier this year. Andrea Millice, Champaign County administrator, said the total renovations cost about $23,000 from the county’s general fund.

The commissioners are working with the sheriff’s office to consider additional renovations in the long term, although those renovations would likely be more costly.

Among them, Millice said the county is considering a proposal that would build a protected entrance for deputies and court staff to enter the courthouse. Those discussions are still in the early stages, however, so Melvin said it’s not clear when a decision about any additional renovations might be reached.

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