County seeks court security | SteamboatToday.com

County seeks court security

Alexis DeLaCruz

Routt County could be eligible for funds to increase courthouse security.

Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak presented the state legislation during a Board of County Commissioners meeting two weeks ago. Stahoviak obtained the information from a Colorado Counties Inc. convention held in November.

If passed, the legislation would assess a $3 court fee to anyone who files paperwork with a state court system. The additional fee could raise as much as $1 million a year statewide. The money would be used to increase court security in courtrooms across Colorado.

“What’s happening is that since Sept. 11 and with the increased risk of violence of any type, more and more judges have requested additional security,” Stahoviak said.

Counties are required to provide court security, she added.

During discussion of the legislation, Stahoviak and other commissioners expressed their concern that a $3 fee would not be enough to ensure all Colorado counties receive a portion of the money.

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“Statewide, $1 million isn’t going to go very far,” she said.

Stahoviak suggested the proposed fee be raised to $5.

Regardless, Stahoviak is not optimistic Routt County would receive much of the money if it is allocated to “needy counties” first.

The Board of County Commissioners allocated more money in its 2007 budget for additional court security staffing, though any other changes to the current security system most likely would not take place until sheriff-elect Gary Wall takes office in January.

Giving judges, district attorneys and court clerks a chance to settle into the new justice center before making any decisions about increasing security decisions is likely, she said.

“We felt we needed to give those folks the opportunity to get moved in there and settled before deciding what worked and what didn’t,” Stahoviak said.

Once the new justice center is built, which will be attached to the Routt County Jail, security screeners will have more access to officer backup should an incident arise. There are no plans to change the security system immediately.

A Routt County Sheriff’s Office deputy will continue to staff a screening station that all people entering the court area are forced to go through. The station includes a metal detector and a deputy who inspects personal belongings.