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County salary board mulls courthouse security post

Single point of entry at the courthouse has popped up for discussion periodically over the last four years.

Wednesday was another one of those times.

The creation of two positions — part-time security officers — was before the county salary board.

Sheriff Ken Klakamp said the “purpose of this” is to “save the county money.”

Currently, two sheriff’s deputies man the security checkpoint just inside the Fifth Ave. entrance to the courthouse.

The proposal would reduce that number by one — replacing a deputy with a security officer who would be paid a cheaper rate.

Klakamp noted that the effort would also free up a deputy to do the typical work the sheriff’s office undertakes — warrants, transports and civil processes.

“The reason I’m not in favor of two (part-time) officers,” he explained, is that security officers would “have no arrest authority whatsoever.”

Commissioner Jeff Eggleston said this is “something that needs a lot more review for a variety of reasons.”

“I don’t personally believe there has to be two people out there” for the “level of traffic out there” and the close proximity to the sheriff’s office. “Their expertise are a waste in their position.”

He noted McKean County hired just one security guard to man their single point station.

“I don’t see the need for having two people there just generally,” Eggleston continued. “Our sheriff’s deputies should be out doing sheriff deputy stuff. (They are) not here to be a security force for single point. (It is) also important to note they are some of our highest paid employees.”

“Based on conversations the Sheriff and I have had,” Commissioner Ben Kafferlin added, “I agree with what you’re saying. This proposal is a step in that direction (and) may have some part-time savings.”

“We’ve lost our constables at the MDJ (Magisterial District Justice) offices,” Court Administrator Linda Critzer added. “The sheriff’s office has had to take that over. There is nothing the sheriff can do about that.” She said they also “can’t do anything about transports.”

Eggleston made a comment about people telling the court not to give the constables work that Klakamp heartily challenged, noting that a sheriff has been sued in the state for such comments.

“My fundamental point (is the) cost to man single-point with two sheriff’s deputies is excessive,” Eggleston said.

“I agree,” Klakamp said. “I’m trying to help you.”

“Where’s the savings?” Eggleston asked.

Klakamp said the cost of the positions would come out of the budget for part-time deputies.

“Every time I try to do this, to save you money,” Klakamp said, “you keep coming back at me with something else.

“I have tried to do this, tried to come back numerous times. (I) get it rubbed in my nose. I refuse to do it again.”

“With all due respect, we’ve given you everything,” Eggleston responded. “(I’m) asking you to look at the numbers and be fiscally responsible.”

The motion for part-time security positions was approved 2-1 with Kafferlin and Treasurer Denny Munksgard voting in favor, Klakamp abstaining and Eggleston voting no.

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