Judge wants security


Chief Judge Michael O'Hara wants security at the courts in Moffat County.

On Tuesday, he asked the Moffat County commissioners to install a metal detector and post an armed deputy at the entrance to the courts.

It is only a matter of time until a violent incident occurs at the courts, O'Hara said. Weapons screening would reduce the risk of violent incidents, he said.

"While I know no one has pulled out a gun and shot someone in this district ... it has happened elsewhere," O'Hara said. "I don't believe it is a question of if it will happen; it is a question of when it will happen."

The commissioners assured O'Hara that they would consider his request, but they made no decision Tuesday.

"I'll do my best to create a balance where we can create a peace of mind for you, myself and everyone else," Commissioner Saed Tayyara said.

The Moffat County Sheriff's Office has metal detectors that could be installed at the courts. But it would cost at least $55,000 to hire a deputy to man the metal detector, Undersheriff Jerry Hoberg said.

Moffat County's courts are part of the 14th Judicial District. Routt and Grand counties are in the same district, and they have metal detectors. The counties installed the security voluntarily, O'Hara said.

According to Colorado case law, counties are responsible for providing security for the courts. O'Hara said he could order the Sheriff's Office to provide security, but he didn't want to have to do that.

"I'm asking you, please, that the commissioners put something in place," O'Hara said.

The courts' unique role in society creates a high potential for violent incidents to occur, said Evan Herman, 14th Judicial District administrator.

"It's the only place parties in emotional situations are forced to come together to settle those conflicts," Herman said.

Divorce cases have the highest risk of becoming violent, he said.

But the rise in drug-related crimes also have increased Moffat County's risk.

There have been minor incidents throughout the judicial district, but no major ones, Herman said.

But if something did happen in Moffat County, the county's liability would be especially high, because Grand and Routt counties have security and Moffat County doesn't, O'Hara said.

District Attorney Bonnie Roe-sink said she supports creating security at the courts.

Commissioner Tom Gray said the commissioners would consider the requests and look for a source to fund the security.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdaily-press.com.

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