Commissioners ask sheriff to create a courthouse security plan.

December 5, 2017

Mason County Courthouse

Commissioners ask sheriff to create a courthouse security plan.

#MasonCountyNews.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — The Mason County Board of Commissioners’ public safety and courts committee has asked Sheriff Kim Cole to present a proposal on what it would take to staff security personnel at the Mason County Courthouse.

The topic was brought up during the committee meeting Tuesday during the sheriff’s request to increase road patrol staffing by four deputies. Currently, Mason County’s courthouse is the only courthouse in the region that does not have security personnel; courthouses in Manistee, Lake, and Oceana counties are all staffed with security personnel with limited entrances and exits.

“I totally support courthouse security,” Sheriff Cole said. “The courthouse is sort of the hotpoint of our society. Many people who are in that building are at a heightened emotional status, perhaps they had just gone through a child custody case, a divorce, a criminal matter, or had to pay a tax bill.” Cole said just last week a subject entered the clerk’s office making threats toward the staff.

The topic came up after Sheriff Cole presented a proposal to request four additional road patrol deputies to the sheriff’s office roster. Commissioner Lew Squires suggested that courthouse security staffing, which is the responsibility of the sheriff’s office, should be part of the proposal. Eventually, the committee chose to send Cole’s original proposal to the county finance committee (see related story) but asked Cole to come up with a plan to staff security at the courthouse; that plan may ultimately become part of a package presented to the voters in 2018.

“We need to look at a package that would benefit the citizens of Mason County,” Squires said.

Cole said he has been in conversations with Judge Peter Wadel, the chief justice of the county. He said both he and Judge Wadel agree that the county courthouse needs to have security personnel, most likely two during business hours.

County Administrator Fabian Knizacky said the county does not have existing funds to staff courthouse security.

The sheriff was asked to present a proposal for the committee’s January meeting.

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