Genesee County judges call for director of security, say satellite courts vulnerable

GENESEE COUNTY, MI – The county needs a new superintendent to assess and coordinate the security of all court facilities, including satellite courtrooms scattered around the county, judges told the County Board of Commissioners .

Acting Genesee Circuit Chief Judge Elizabeth A. Kelly and District Chief Judge Christopher E. Odette made the request to a county committee on Wednesday, April 27, but commissioners said they wanted to spend more time to discuss the proposal before deciding on their next step.

Commissioners said they want Sheriff Chris Swanson, whose officers provide security at Flint circuit and district court buildings but not satellite courts, to be involved in discussions about creating the position director of court security and should consider more broadly the additional cost of expanding existing security coverage.

“If this position is created, there will be a lot of additional costs … which we will have to look at … We need a long-term plan,” said County Council President Domonique Clemons.

The position of Director of Court Security alone would cost more than $136,000 and would be responsible for developing disaster planning for ongoing court operations, mandatory reporting of all courthouse security incidents to the office administrative state court and perform a review of internal security protocols not otherwise statutorily. assigned to the police.

Odette and Kelly said there were obvious security concerns at county courthouses, particularly courtrooms outside the city of Flint, which have metal detectors and court deputies. sheriff’s office on duty.

In addition to these central courts, the county also has satellite courts located in Fenton, Mt. Morris, Davison, Burton, Flushing, and Grand Blanc.

Odette said current security arrangements need to be coordinated and placed under the responsibility of a civil administrator.

“We have received requests from the (state) Supreme Court. We’ve had reports from the Supreme Court indicating the lack of security here and the day someone walks into court and starts shooting, that’s the day…you’re going to pay dearly…

“In the depositions, they’re going to say, ‘In light of these reports that you had a lack of security, what did you do about it? ‘” the judge said.

Kelly said the out-of-county district courts are “vulnerable” and said the county is “in desperate need of safety for the court, employees and the public.”

Commissioners received the request to create the new position from Probate Court Administrator Sam Olson, chairman of the county courthouse security committee, on behalf of Kelly and Odette.

“The safety of the public, lawyers, litigants and court personnel is of paramount importance,” Olson said in a letter to commissioners. “Courts hear cases alleging violence, domestic discord and other matters with substantial elements of emotional involvement with an increased risk of confrontation. The Director of Courts Security is a necessary position to ensure that all aspects of court security are comprehensively addressed.

At Wednesday’s finance committee meeting, commissioners tabled the resolution to create the new position, delaying any action for at least two weeks.

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