Cape County to hire deputies to increase courthouse security

Friday, March 8, 2013
Inmates were escorted from the Cape Girardeau County courthouse in Jackson back to the county jail after their court appearance in this file photo. Security at the county courthouse in Jackson has long been a concern of those who work there. (Fred Lynch)

Cape Girardeau County courthouses will receive stepped-up security coverage from the county sheriff's department, commissioners decided Thursday.

Two officers will be hired so the department's patrol division can keep watch over court facilities in Cape Girardeau and Jackson. The sheriff's office has hired no new personnel since 2007, and Sheriff John Jordan told commissioners there is a need more than ever for officers to cover patrols at the courthouses in light of recent violence at court and public venues across the country.

Judges who serve Cape Girardeau County courts approached Jordan with requests for security guards.

Jordan proposed the department be allowed to hire two officers for at total $84,665 annually, which includes salary and benefits and the cost of a promotion for two other officers who will be required when the patrol changes to 12-hour shifts, as part of the plan to upgrade courthouse security. All officers in the patrol division will rotate in and out of courthouse security duty.

Commissioners gave unanimous approval to the proposal.

Jordan said the additional officers will cut the department's annual overtime cost by about half and will ensure the availability of deputies in the evenings, on weekends and during holidays when the courthouses are closed. The overtime cost for the sheriff's department in 2012 was $38,456.

The cost of the promotions and a salary and benefits for one officer will come from the county's Proposition 1 fund, which helps fund the sheriff's department and road and bridge work. Costs associated with the other officer will come from the county's general revenue fund.

Commissioners also heard from Jane Wernsman, director of the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center, and Amy Morris, supervisor of the environmental department at the health center, about possible changes in the county's food code because of a growing number of farmers market and food stand operations during the warmer months. Wernsman said a committee has been reviewing permit rules and may propose issuing special permits to small food vendors that would not require a full inspection by the health center.

Several county offices soon will receive some renovations, as commissioners on Thursday approved up to $10,000 from its capital improvements fund, which holds money received from refinancing jail bonds, to perform painting and repairs at the county administration building.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

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100 Court St., Jackson, MO

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