Our View: Courtroom control
Years of lobbying paid off for officials on the third floor of the Moffat County Courthouse last month, when long-desired security measures were implemented.
The security measures exist only on the third floor, which houses two courtrooms, the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, the Moffat County Probation Department and the office for court clerks.
The security measures entail the use of two security officers and a metal detector to screen court visitors for items that could be used as weapons.
The Editorial Board believes these security measures, which are not overly obtrusive or time consuming, are reasonable approaches to an increasingly unreasonable world.
The court floor, as has been well-discussed by court officials, can be an emotional and irrational environment for people.
It is a place where divorces – sometimes bitter ones – are argued and finalized. It is place where prison sentences – sometimes extended ones – are imposed. It is a place where fines are issued, futures are altered and children are sometimes taken away.
These things can push people to do odd things, things that are out of character.
In recent stories in the Daily Press, two judges and a court clerk each cited a past incident in court as a compelling reason for security measures on the court floor.
They each, separate from the others, relayed the story of a woman who once withdrew a large knife while on the witness stand.
The woman did not bring the knife to harm anyone, but rather to better explain a point in her testimony to the court, they said.
Still, as the two judges and court clerk pointed out, she was allowed to bring such an item into the courtroom because no security measures prevented her, or anyone else, from doing so.
Had it been someone else with a more sinister motivation, they said, the outcome could have been different.
The Editorial Board believes the security measures in place are a wise investment on behalf of employee and public safety, as well as enhanced peace of mind.
But, perhaps the security measures on the third floor will be short lived.
The Moffat County Commission currently is studying the possibility of relocating third floor services to a location Editorial Board members feel is a better fit – the Moffat County Public Safety Center.
It’s too early to know whether the cost of relocating the third floor to the Safety Center is within reason.
But if this move is deemed fiscally responsible and does happen, it likely would be the end of any security worries court officials could ever have.
The Safety Center is a digital fortress, a place where people cannot move through the building without being electronically buzzed through. It’s also home to the Moffat County Jail, Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, Craig Police Department and Colorado State Patrol.
The point is, it’s hard to imagine the environment at the Safety Center allowing any security issues – let alone knife-wielding witnesses – to threaten the safety of employees or the public.
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