Deputies are on duty at the Moffat County Courthouse after a death threat was made against a Moffat County court Judge.
The Moffat County Sheriff's Office is placing deputies in the courthouse between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The action was taken after Judge Mary Lynn James, Dr. David James and their son, were threatened by a Meeker resident.
"An individual named Carla Allen made specific death threats against Doctor James, Judge James and their son," Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead said. "The Meeker Police Department did a threat assessment of this situation, and based on that information, we did not treat this threat lightly. We took appropriate action to protect the employees within the courthouse."
Carla Rae Allen, 40, was arrested on two counts of felony stalking on Jan. 25. She is free on $50,000 bond, and is due in court in Meeker on Feb. 22 for an arraignment hearing.
According to court documents, Dr. James personally knows Carla Allen and has assisted him on numerous occasions in Meeker in her capacity as a surgical technician."
The Meeker police received tape recordings from Dr. James of phone calls made by Allen on Dec. 30 to the James' residence.
A restraining order against Allen has been in effect since her arrest on Jan. 25.
The improved security presence since Jan. 28 is based on several incidents, the threats against the James family being the latest, Grinstead said.
"The department heads in the courthouse have been requesting security improvements since we moved out of the courthouse," Grinstead said. "I don't know how long we'll station a deputy there. This is just a Band-Aid to a long-term situation. How long we do this is dictated by the budget approved by the commissioners."
According to Grinstead, the deputies assigned to the courthouse duty are working on overtime, and that expenditure is covered out of the county budget, not under the Sheriff's Office budget.
The funds for the extra security are implemented in two-week segments, and approved every two weeks by the Moffat County Commissioners. The cost of having a deputy on duty at the courthouse is approximately $1,200 a week.
"This is an issue of courthouse security. We don't have a lot of choice in the matter you can't be selective about what is protected," Moffat County Commissioner T. Wright Dickinson said. "It's a concern for everyone in the courthouse we don't have the Sheriff's Office in here anymore."
The courthouse is equipped with new electronic doors and panic buttons that will alert the Sheriff's Office in the event of an emergency, but this further step was needed in this situation, according to commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos.
"Security is paramount. Public officials, employees and customers in the courthouse need protection," Raftopoulos said. "We have to deal with any situation that threatens the total security of the courthouse."
Neither Dickinson nor Raftopoulos had a set schedule for how long the county would provide the funding for the deputies assigned to the courthouse.
Security issues and improvements are scheduled to be included in the county's plans to renovate and reorganize the courthouse. The first preliminary meeting with consultants concerning those renovations is scheduled for Feb. 19.
According to Grinstead, if the county opts to keep a guard at the courthouse permanently, it will need to provide the funding for it.
The guard would more than likely operate out of the Sheriff's Office, he said.