Two Courthouse security plans under way

— There are two plans for security at the Moffat County Courthouse, one short-term and the other long-term.

Thankfully, Commissioner Tom Mathers said, there's grant money for both of them.

Court employees requested county officials establish some security measures at the courthouse because they said it would be too easy for someone to bring in a loaded firearm.

The courthouse does not have any security features now.

In the short term, Moffat County applied for a $119,750 grant from the Office of the State Court Administrator to renovate the courthouse and hire security personnel.

County Budget Analyst Tinneal Gerber mailed the application Monday, and said the county should know within six weeks whether it was approved.

If the grant comes through, county officials plan to install a walk-through metal detector on the courthouse's third floor and hire as much as two new security officers to staff a security checkpoint there.

Grant funds also would pay for surveillance cameras on the first and second floors to monitor who gets on the courthouse elevator, which would only be open to handicapped residents.

In addition, the grant would continue to pay for the security officers' salaries each year going forward, she said, although there's not necessarily a guarantee it would pay their salaries forever.

"It's always a possibility, especially with state funding, that (the money) will go away," Gerber said. "But, with this grant, it's supposed to provide for things every year."

County officials do not see retrofitting the courthouse as a lasting fix, however.

It would be easier, Mathers said, to do what other communities normally do and put law enforcement and courtrooms together in the same building.

The county received a $112,500 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to help pay for a feasibility study examining the cost of moving the courthouse courtrooms to the Public Safety Center on First Street.

The county plans to match DOLA's grant with $37,500 of its own money to pay for the study.

With courtrooms removed from the courthouse third floor, officials would move offices around and bring Social Services into the courthouse.

In that event, Mathers said the county would probably sell the building at 595 Breeze St., where Social Services now resides.

Gerber said she hopes to be ready to accept bids from architects for the study by the end of August. If that happens, the county would expect to have someone hired by November, with a study finalized by next spring.

After the study, building new courtrooms and reorganizing county departments is another matter, Mathers said. He added he doesn't expect the county to actually build courtrooms at the Safety Center any time soon.

"This is like a pipedream," he said. "Realistically, our budget is so tight right now that we probably won't be able to afford this for a long while. If it happens in the next five years, I'd be surprised."

It's not a waste to fund a feasibility study, though, Mathers said.

"Without a feasibility study, all roads are dead-ends anyway," he said. "We need this if we want to do anything and that is a good idea."

Mathers said he felt the county might not need to do anything, however. He said he was unsure whether upgrading courtroom security is necessary.

"I don't feel the need for security is near as important as the (court employees feel)," he said. "But, as long as they have money in grants to pay for this, then I don't have a problem with it."

Comments

2aLegal 5 years, 8 months ago

Dear Mr. Mathers:

It appears that you may not think that security is not necessary at the Moffat County Courthouse but some of us in community (especially those who work there on a daily basis) do. It is not a matter of if someone will bring in a loaded weapon, it is a question of when. The Judges, clerks, District Attorney's and the Probation Officers work with many people that are not always balanced. You as a County Commissioner may feel safe in your office at the Court House, but I can assure you that the Judges do not. They sentence many people who threaten them on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis. These threats should never be taken lightly. So my question is...do you wait for someone to fatally harm one of our Court personel before you do something? I sincerely hope not, I think that the cost of security will be far less than a lawsuit for wrongful death. Think hard about the decision you are making.

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Patrick Germond 5 years, 8 months ago

Oh, this is priceless comedy. Does this mean between the county and this other (DOLA) and $74,000 we're going to see if it's cheeper or better to bring the courthouse to the cop or the cop to the courthouse. I know, I know, we're also going to see how much it cost to build on to the safety center. I say we go out to where the hospital is being built, and what the hell just build a sky scraper. I'm mean a real one. That way we have a building that really does have it all. But what ever we do we better not higher anybody tomorrow and give them a $50 wan. We'll never get the new building if we solve it with simplicity first. I'll tell you what. Putting county employee's that are on light duty at a desk in front of the door with a jacket that says security and taser would never work.

In all seriousness, there has got to be more to this story than was in the artical.

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redneckgirl 5 years, 8 months ago

"Grant funds also would pay for surveillance cameras on the first and second floors to monitor who gets on the courthouse elevator, which would only be open to handicapped residents." Do they think that only handicapped residents will be the one's with the guns?? What? Did I read that wrong?? And why do a feasibility study at this point if this is a pipe dream that's so far away? Heck by then the safety center will be sick of their building and will want a new one too. Throw some more money out the door. I'm betting someone will want a few more studies as this issues gets pursued. I guess I don't understand that either. It's almost like a "keeping up with the Jones'" thing...hospital, safety center, school--who's next in line for the pipedream?? OH-it's the recreation center...that's right.

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50cal 5 years, 8 months ago

If I was scared for my life and being threatened then why?, WHY wouldn't I arm myself? I know many other communities set up security and I agree with that. Many times in small towns someone has gone berzerk and shot up some place. What do all the places all have in common? The simple answer is the people being shot were unarmed. All the people working up on the third floor are up there because thats the job they chose. they are mostly supposed to be officers of the court and as such should be allowed to carry concealed. SO if your feeling threatened why would you wait for someone else to save you? To much dependency on the government to save you from yourself. Come on lets see about some security but lets be responsable for ourselves.

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Patrick Germond 5 years, 8 months ago

I thought about that very thing 50. I'll bet O'hera is armed but I will also bet some of the lady judges that fill in aren't. Not to mention the clerks deal with a high leval of angery people too. If I was a judge or you were I think we would both agree if there was a problem in the hall, 5-10 second warning to get our 45's out from under that robe would be a great advantage. I definitely agree the judge needs to be part of it if he is for real. It is his court room after all.

We've both been in other counties 50. We know the headache it is trying to get judges and law enforcement to stand up to criminals and not be intimadated. We both know the small town America we grew up in is gone. We both want our legal system to take a hard line towards criminals. Yet our county is letting our own people be intimadated right here, and if it does go bad they want it to be a quick draw match in the court room. The rule is, if you find yourself in a fair fight your tactic's suck. We don't need another building to way increase the courtrooms security. I found the wand's for $50 in a cataloge and the rest would be a taser and shirt and a $10 phr employee to wave the wand up and down. Would it be air tight? No, but it would shift the odds greatly. Remember 50, these criminals aren't trained like us and just that much of a deterant can go a long way.

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Patrick Germond 5 years, 8 months ago

One other thing. The sheriff's department doesn't have a p.t. program so even if you put a real live deputy on the door it still doesn't mean your safe. About a year ago that one criminal took that older, out of shape, female's gun and shot his way out of a court house. I'm not blaming the deputy at all. The criminal is responsible for his actions. i'm just saying, and any cop will back me up on this. Somebody armed and hell bent is more than a hand full, and the outcome is always in question. I'm just saying we can have a big impact in security without it costing that much.

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anewvoice1 5 years, 8 months ago

It's time for a new voice. "Patrick" and "redneckgirl": I have been reading your comments on a variety of issues for some weeks now. And I must say, your comments on the courthouse security issue are worthy of a response. First of all, Moffat County is fortunate to have good citizens dedicated to public service working on the third floor. of the courthouse. Yes, they all chose to work in some facet of the justice system, but because of their career choice, not one of them deserves to be the random target of a disgruntled litigant. I agree with your comments regarding personal accountability. However, we trust in our government to protect us, particularly when working in the public forum. And finally, "Patrick" it is somewhat chauvinistic of you to presume that only a male may arm himself...have you been out to the Craig Trap Club and watched some of the ladies shoot? Remember, you are in Moffat County (the Real West), not New York City.

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Patrick Germond 5 years, 8 months ago

I agree with you. I don't see your point. The comment on the lady judges was based on more men carry than women. That's why I said I some don't. But I see your point. If a woman was to carry it would be a judge and I should have said that in a better way. I am sorry. As for the other point I think we should have security right now! The county just found all those new taxes from the oil companies and their is no excuse. As far as the judge carring, well I would just like to think that's the kind of judge we would have. I know it's not to P.C.. I'm going to try and tone it down a bit and right an artical to the paper to try and get you some help. Thank you

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Patrick Germond 5 years, 8 months ago

I've been pretty tired today and looking back I see I made another error. The point I didn't see was where you thought I didn't support security. I do suport it, alot. I don't think you should have to put up with that at all. Cops carry guns when they deal with these people. The judge is the one that decides their life and is at even a higher risk in some ways. The clerks have to deal with the same group of people and they don't have any protection. I'm a little on the furious side when I think of the judge and clerks that gave me my adopted son are up there and left hanging out that way.

The other thing, I thought another two minutes and I'm sure I have no excuse. It was just dumb.

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50cal 5 years, 8 months ago

ANV. sorry about the misunderstanding but I think it would be best if a person ANY person counted on themselves first instead of others for their personal protection. Not that we don't need security, we do.

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anewvoice1 5 years, 8 months ago

Patrick and 50cal: Thank you. I am glad that you support courthouse security. And Patrick, you have a really good point about police officers, who of course carry weapons for their protection: they make the decision on whether to take the person into custody; custody in most situations is a temporary situation until the person bonds out of jail. If the case goes to sentencing, the judges are the ones that make the decision which has a much more significant impact on a person's life and liberty interests: probation, jail, community corrections or prison. We want judges making the tough decisions without concern for their personal safety or that of their staff or other negative repercussions; one of the fundamental principals which our justice system is founded upon is that of maintaining an independent judicary. Best of regards!

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oldsage 5 years, 8 months ago

Oh Please, they took the S. O. out of the courthouse and in typical moffat county lack of judgement and planning never thought about the security issue. Just how cool the new offices and jail the S.O. was going to get, and I have seen the argument made in this forum that the overcrowding of the old jail was done with prisoners from outside the county to justify the new digs for the S. O. so the answer is simple put the sheriff behind the desk at the courthouse with his little tazer!

And for a special note, Judge Mary Lynn James, when she was on the bench, carried and was/is a dead shot. And while I am at it, when they talk about threats being made, let me say this about that, I have always considered making a threat poor salesmanship and/or a bad tactic if you really were considering doing something stupid. Think about it, Why the hell would you warn someone of the illegal things you are contemplating for their future? Not smart, only morons make threats. If I worked at the courthouse I would be more concerned with those who are reamed by what masquerades as justice over there who don't make any threats at all, but walk out and silently promise themselves a creative future response for the injustice they just suffered like the guy who fired up a D-9 and had an afternoon for himself in Granby a few years back. Now that was a creative response! When D-9s are outlawed only outlaws will have D-9s!

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