Courthouse to get full-time deputy

Courthouse to get full-time deputy

‘ This would be added protection’ to measures already in place, says Sheriff

The Crittenden County courthouse will be getting its own full-time deputy to patrol the parking lot and to wand people with a hand held metal detector and keep a better eye on people entering from the basement and first floor areas.

Justice Lisa O’Neal said she and Sheriff Mike Allen discussed ways to better improve security at the courthouse and believe having a full time deputy in the building will address concerns about people entering from those two unsecured entranceways.

“We are trying to make the courthouse more safe,” O’Neal said. “He and I were just kind of brainstorming and came up with having an extra person attached to the courthouse.

We just thought this was a good start.”

O’Neal said the basement entrance and the main entrance do not have any metal detectors and people can enter the building without anyone seeing them.

Having a deputy specifically watching who comes in and out plus the parking lot will add an extra layer of security, O’Neal said.

“His main job will be to walk the floor, walk the parking lot, and even the basement because anybody can do anything they want there and we never know,” O’Neal said.

O’Neal added that the parking lot also gets busy during the primaries and elections.

“It would just be nice to have somebody out there with authority who can handle the times when it gets crazy,” O’Neal said.

Allen said the two unsecured entrances are the major focus, but agreed with O’Neal that the parking lot is also a concern.

“We have security upstairs which handles going into the courtroom and they have metal detectors. But a lot of times there will be a crew that will break up after domestic court where the two sides get into it outside of the courtroom or there is a fight downstairs or in the parking lot,” Allen said. “So this would be added protection for the first floor and the courthouse in general where there is not anybody downstairs.”

County Treasurer Charlie Suiter said there have been times when he and County Judge Woody Wheeless have had to intercede in fights in the hallways and parking lot.

“Woody and I have broken up several fights ourselves,” Suiter said.

Justice Albert Marconi asked Allen if it would be a new full-time position.

According to Allen, the officer would be a full time position with duties similar to a bailiff, but would not require any extra funding because he will use leftover money from unfilled jobs at the jail.

“We can never stay fully staffed at the jail,” Allen said. “We’ve always got excess funds from vacancies. We pay our people what other agencies do, but people just don’t want to get into corrections whether you pay them $100,000 or not. They don’t want to take that job.”

Allen said he has about eight or nine openings now and can’t fill them.

Wheeless said he is all for adding the extra security.

“I think the more security we have at the courthouse, the better, off we are,” Wheeless said.

Justice Lorenzo Parker agreed.

I think we should go with the recommendation,” Parker said. “We’ve got the primaries coming up, and complications with people trying to park, and we’ve always had to call the sheriff when we have had an

early election.”

By Mark Randall