State may fund added security in county courthouse

Construction for the 42,000 square foot facility began in the spring of 2012 and cost $33 million. The old courthouse was built in 1960.

With help from Assemblyman Luis Alejo, the state is looking to include $400,000 in this year’s budget to fund additional court security at the San Benito County Courthouse, according to an announcement from Alejo’s office.
Alejo, D-Salinas, worked with the governor’s office and other legislators to secure $1 million in the budget for court security assistance in two counties, San Benito and Calaveras, with new courthouses funded by the state. The grant funding decision is pending at the State Department of Finance, according to the assemblyman.
County officials had expressed concern over the past year about having to fund the additional sheriff’s deputies to maintain adequate staffing with a much larger, 41,500-square-foot facility, which opened earlier this year.
The courthouse was finished in December and opened in March. The state-funded project came at a cost of $33 million, but the state did not provide additional funding for security personnel at the facility, leaving county court system and supervisors scrambling to find an extra $400,000 in the budget to cover the security gap.
According to Alejo’s announcement: “Under the Superior Court Act of 2012, the Sheriff of a county is required to attend all superior court sessions held within their jurisdiction and to provide security services and bailiff functions. According to the application for the $400,000 grant funds submitted by the county, Sheriff Darren Thompson is in a difficult position of providing security services at a new state-of-the-art court facility of 41,500 square feet while receiving the same funding to provide services at the old facility of 10,800 square feet.”
The application states that the money will be used to fund 4.5 new positions that include one supervisor, three full-time deputy sheriffs and one part-time deputy sheriff. Their duties include x-ray machine and front door security, perimeter security, control room operations and inmate movement.
The announcement from Alejo came as officials plan to dedicate the relatively new courthouse at a 3 p.m. ceremony Friday.
This story is developing. Look back for more.

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