Two Courthouse security plans under way

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— 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 6 years, 4 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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redneckgirl 6 years, 4 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 6 years, 4 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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anewvoice1 6 years, 4 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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50cal 6 years, 4 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 6 years, 4 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 6 years, 4 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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