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Sheriff to handle security at municipal court

LISBON — The county sheriff’s office will take over the security duties at county municipal court starting Sept. 21.

Sheriff Ray Stone confirmed he was asked by the judges and county Commissioner Mike Halleck to take over the security duties just like they did at the county courthouse 18 months ago.

He said a deputy will be assigned to the security checkpoint during normal operating hours, with a second deputy to help during the three busiest court days of the week. The municipal court building is also home to the county title department.

While the sheriff’s office can likely absorb the additional duties for now with existing staff, Stone said incoming sheriff Brian McLaughlin will likely need to consider hiring an extra deputy in 2021 to make this work.

The reason Stone has enough extra manpower to make it work for now is because some of the school districts he contracted with to provide deputies as school resource officers declined to renew the agreements due to budget constraints. The money for some of these special-duty deputies came from the county Department of Job and Family Services and not Stone’s budget.

Halleck said commissioners have no problem providing the sheriff with the additional funding to hire another deputy to make this work.

Since three of the four county municipal courts were moved to the new municipal court building about 15 years ago, the security staff consisted of retired mostly part-time police officers and deputies.

This was similar to the arrangement used by commissioners in staffing the first-floor security checkpoint at the county courthouse, which was manned mostly by new police academy graduates to save money. These part-time employees kept quitting for better paying and full-time jobs, and the turnover only grew worse. Commissioners decided in March 2019 to go with sheriff’s deputies, which is how it is done in every other county in Ohio.

Halleck said he and the judges had been talking about switching to the sheriff’s office. “I think it’s fair to say that all parties agreed some time ago that we should have a deputy handling security” at municipal court as well, he said.

The head of security at municipal court recently stepped down and a couple of other security officers quit, “and the judges thought this would be a good time to move forward,” he said.

The move will likely cost the county more money. “There are other ways to save money, and this is not one of them,” Halleck said.

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