Our View: Time to make a ruling


— If the Moffat County Courthouse were a private business, it would make a great mall.

It hosts a multitude of government agencies, and it also has a plethora of doors to enter the building, creating a nice one-stop shopping experience for those seeking to fill their government needs.

But, from a security standpoint, it offers something else - a problem.

Why, you ask?

Although many of the operations inside the building are your average run-of-the-mill government agencies at work, having the Combined Courts creates a unique issue.

People at the courthouse often are in conflict, either with law enforcement in criminal cases or with each other in civil cases.

Sometimes the people involved in these conflicts have documented substance abuse problems, and sometimes people are under distress, going through life-changing experiences, such as divorce.

In short, verbal conflict is part of the scenery. But what do we have in place in case verbal conflict escalates?

The answer: A panic button, and deputies at court upon request. These are some steps in the right direction, but that's it.

It offers no preventative measures from someone bringing in weapons, and offers him or her plenty of escape routes or, God forbid, other targets.

The Moffat County Combined Courts have asked the County Commission to address this issue, asking the commissioners to provide entry-level screening, such as having people run through some sort of metal detector process.

The reasoning: To keep weapons out of the courtroom, as well as create a sense of security.

Has violence in the Moffat County Courthouse been a problem to date? Not really. Could it be a problem in the future? For some, it's not a matter of if, but a matter of when.

This statement is not meant to create a culture of fear - and perhaps it's overstated - but the point is that it's better to be proactive than reactive. There is a fine line between living in a state of fear and living in a state of security.

The Commission is looking at these issues, Commissioner Tom Gray said, and board members are engaged in the process of figuring out how to handle it.

Currently, the commission is looking at no-cost or low-cost solutions first to help deal with these issues. From there on, it is a process of evaluation.

Gray said it's a matter of calculating the risk, the cost and the negative effects that can occur when limiting access to government agencies.

These are valid points. The county should do its due diligence in assessing this situation.

Manning an entry-level screening station is not cheap, and one can question if that is worth the cost. And if an entry-level screening station were put in place, it would likely limit the number of entrances into the courthouse; thus, bottlenecking access to the courthouse and agencies within.

But there are options.

Recently, a statewide commission that distributes grants to help communities provide safety at public buildings, such as courthouses, released its first grant, and while the first round of grant applications ended Friday, money from this commission still will be available in the future.

Or perhaps the situation should be looked at differently. It has been suggested that it might be more cost effective to build a new courthouse at the Public Safety Center.

This certainly is an option to explore if the funding is there. The building is properly staffed, and it would greatly reduce the cost of travel.

Is it the perfect idea? Maybe. Maybe not.

But it is a proactive idea, and after the all the calculations are done, the editorial board hopes a proactive approach is the one the commissioners take.

It's time to make a strong ruling in favor of courthouse security.


taxslave 9 years, 2 months ago

A message of fear. You are an extention of the mindset of the Bush Administration. Shame on you. I don't want to live in a world like that. This isn't Germany. Are you going to pay for it? No legislation in the world will stop what you suggest. If I couldn't get a gun in and I was ticked off at someone and I was hell bent on hurting that person, I'd just wait outside.

Same with gun control bs.....PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE. I've got a hand held weed puller that could get someone. Will you legislate those too? Baseball bats?

btw... where will one "check" their concealed weapons, legally carried by law abiding citizens. Many, many people around you, everyday in Moffat County, are armed and carry concealed weapons permits and I feel safer because of this.

I suggest you leave this alone or move somewhere else where you enjoy living under lock and key. The world is what we make it, not what "they" or "you" tell us it is.

I'm willing to bet the author is in agreement with the REAL ID act, which I will NEVER accept. It's as if Germany is on the rise again. Everything in the name of "National Security". That was Hitler's biggest excuse! Mr. Hitler also pushed "Romans 13" down the throats of the religious.

Colorado offered legislation in 05 against the REAL ID ACT. I don't believe it's ratified. We have a different governor and Dems. want the ACT. It's worth keeping an eye on this or move to Montana and stand with that governor.....which I'll do if Colorado accepts it.


oldsage 9 years, 1 month ago

At my age I have observed two things about this issue. Fair treatment for all in any courthouse promotes civility. And what happens in that building and others like it demonstrates the need for all the extra security they want.

It should also be noted that the people who become or plan to become violent in courthouses are the people who do not care if they are caught and prosecuted. If I were the ones abusing the the public from the offices and/or courtrooms in that building I would be more concerned with those who did not want to be caught who have access to unregistered dandelion diggers and butter knives!

Obviously those who plan to use a D-9 bulldozer to make their point don't care if they are caught either. Just remember that, "When D-9's are outlawed only outlaws will have D-9s."


Joanna Hatten 9 years, 1 month ago

I can only hope that you two are not insinuating that people who go through the court system do not get treated fairly. I have been there on jury duty and personally witnessed court staff being abused by these "up-standing" citizens. If doing your job allows you to be abused by people who not only know and abuse the system, what a sad country this has become. If our county commissioners are not willing to take a stand and listen to the staff that deal with this element of people on a daily basis, and take measures to protect them while they are doing their jobs, then maybe its time we put them on notice. They say that money is the issue? How do you put a price tag on peoples safety? They have a right to be safe at work. In fact lets play it this way....if an incident occurs requiring immediate attention for security, I urge courthouse staff to call each of the commissioners instead of the sheriff. Let THEM stand between you and some ticked off person who really has nothing to lose. If that is there idea of "security" THANK GOD none of my loved ones work at the courthouse.

To those who do work there....may God be with you and just know that there are some of us who think you are worth protecting.


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.