Clerk requests bulletproof glass at Alpena courthouse

ALPENA — The Alpena County Board of Commissioners Finance Committee agreed to look into the cost of replacing some of the exterior windows at the county courthouse with bulletproof glass on Wednesday, after county Clerk Bonnie Friedrichs asked the committee to consider the safety of the employees in her office.

Friedrichs said employees in her office are “sitting ducks” at their desks, surrounded by windows that leave them totally exposed. She said windows can be the most vulnerable points of the building.

“The county has implemented bulletproof walls, doors, counter access, and windows, and yet leaves us totally at the mercy of anyone who wishes to shoot through the windows or throw rocks and things at the windows,” she said. “We know this can happen with the recent DPI shooting.”

On Sunday, police said a man fired a handgun at employees working on the roof of Decorative Panels International. No one was injured. An Alpena man, Benjamin C. Atwater, 58, was charged with multiple felonies on Wednesday.

Friedrichs said the current windows were installed around 1978 and are due to be replaced. She asked county officials to consider installing the bulletproof glass when they replace those windows.

Friedrichs also asked that she be placed on the security committee agenda to discuss the matter further.

The committee agreed to ask Maintenance Superintendent Wes Wilder to find out how much it would cost to replace the windows for the county clerk’s office.

Wilder said he would have to measure the windows and get with the company they have been working with to get an estimate of how much the project would cost. He said bulletproof glass is expensive and that the bigger the window, the more it will cost to install.

Wilder said there may be other options where they could make the windows smaller to reduce prices if need be.

“There are a lot of different things I’m going to have to look into and options for the county commissioners for them to make a decision on,” he said.

The county is in the middle of performing a number of security upgrades to offices in the county buildings.

Treasurer Kim Ludlow said the county has spent $108,430 in security upgrades to date since the county began making the upgrades in 2018.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.