Vernon County Sheriff Jason Mosher told the Vernon County Commission Friday that he thinks he has found a way to have 24/7 law enforcement coverage in the county, increase the security at the courthouse and at the same time cut down on the comp time racked up by his deputies.
Mosher told the commission that he is proposing that the county and the sheriff's office jointly fund hiring a full time bailiff for the courthouse. This will free up the deputy that currently acts as a bailiff on court days to patrol the county or serve papers.
Having a full-time bailiff at the courthouse will add to the security there, Mosher told the commission.
The courthouse has the prosecutor, judges and tax collectors, all of which can create hard feeling for some people.
"Lots of potential to have people angry at what's going on," he said.
"When things do go bad in the courthouse, they go really, really bad ... even in the few minutes it takes to respond here a lot can happen," Mosher said.
"It's important to me that this is a secure building to come to," he said.
"There are not many courthouses I talked to that did not have a full-time bailiff," he said, adding that the lack of safety at courthouses has led to lawsuits.
"People expect a courthouse to be a safe place," he said.
Mosher said that he would also like to see security cameras installed in the building. Then the bailiff could monitor what is happening on a lap top computer, even while he is in the courtroom.
"You can get a camera system for about $1,500," Mosher said.
He told the commission that he has six deputies who patrol the county roads, two detectives, a chief deputy and two school resource officers.
"We can achieve 24-hour coverage with six road deputies," he said.
He told the commission that he had looked at the patrol schedule and the hours currently without coverage are usually between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m., which happens to coincide with the time frame when most of the deputies comp time is racked up. When a deputy goes off duty he is told that he will be on call for the next four hours and that is the deputy who is call in to handle a suspicious vehicle call or cows in the road, which adds to the comp time.
With the time a deputy spends as bailiff added for road patrol and careful scheduling Mosher said it will be possible to cover the open time and at the same time cut down on the comp time.
Mosher told the commission he would like to replace two of the department's patrol cars, which will cost about $50,000.
"I would like to look into something that will get around as well as a truck but still get the mileage of a car," he said.
One possibility would be a Ford utility Interceptor with a police package, he said.