At Tuesday morning’s Southold Town Board work session, Town Justice Rudy Bruer asked board members to consider upping security during Friday justice court sessions in the Town Hall meeting room by installing a metal detector.
The idea has been proposed before, but given the economic climate and the small space of the meeting hall and its lobby during busy court sessions, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said he did not want to commit to a metal detector nor the payroll to man it for 2013 – even with a grant available from the New York State Office of Court Administration.
“With the grant comes strings attached — the metal detector itself might not be cost prohibitive but you’ve still got to pay two people to work it,” Russell said, adding that the town has already been through an expensive period with the full-time court officer out for training and police officers paid overtime to cover court security.
Russell’s draft 2013 budget is $40,976,029, which will increase the tax rate by 1.98 percent (the town will release a reworked draft budget Wednesday morning). Judge Bruer urged the board to reconsider where the money comes from to cover certain court expenses — the police department should have a court metal detector and extra security help in their budget, he said.
“There are just certain things that seem to flow naturally out of certain departments,” he said. “A court officer is required to have a gun, but the court does not have a line item for bullets, for example.”
Councilman Al Krupski pitched the idea of moving justice court sessions to the recreation center in Peconic — a roomier, more open space to set up a system for heightened security, he said, reiterating an idea that has also been discussed before but on that Russell said he does not support because the recreation center is so heavily used.
Russell added that the board needs to address long-term issues of the justice court before moving forward with a metal detector.
“I don’t see us resolving this before passing a budget,” he said.
A $1,200 taser for the court officer is still included in the draft 2013 budget.
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