2016-09-15 / Views

Security guards not needed at county bld.

Blame the media, including mass, mainstream or social, for a nagging thought that we’re more apt to be a victim of gun violence today than a few years ago.

We aren’t, at least according to a 2015 Pew Research Center analysis showing that gun violence declined rather precipitously in the 1990s and has held steady since.

So why the push now for a security detail at the Leelanau County governmental center?

Well, there’s that nagging thought, formed by a constant bombardment of news about the worst criminal characters America has to offer.

Leelanau County officials are mulling over security options that have included placing unarmed guards with metal detectors at the front doors to the government center. Or they could be placed at the center’s second floor, which is occupied by people involved in our judicial system including court workers, prosecutors and even witnesses in trials.

Presently security includes stationing a deputy on the second floor to screen people during high-profile cases that usually involve violence. Recall that bailiffs are present when court is in session, and they are armed.

Judges led by Probate Judge Larry Nelson have pressed the county to hire a private company for security. DK Security has offered to provide two unarmed guards for about $80,000 a year.

Placing them at the building entrance would involve screening older people headed to the Senior Services office and couples picking up marriage licenses. Contractors may have to remove their steel-toed boots.

That sounds like overkill to us.

And we’re not convinced that all people coming and going to the second floor of the government center should be screened. Court is usually only in session one or two days per week.

Another option being considered is hiring a full-time deputy who would screen people headed to the courtroom area when court is in session.

That option seems more palatable, as the deputy would at least be armed. The cost also would be about $80,000 a year. No word yet on what that deputy would do for his or her remaining time on the job, as crime rates have also dropped in Leelanau County.

We recall the safety argument made a decade ago by proponents for moving the county building out of Leland and adjacent to the Law Enforcement Center. Deputies would be stationed nearby, able to respond quickly to any emergency.

And so they are.

The push for more security began shortly after two bailiffs were shot and killed by an inmate who overpowered one of them during a transfer in Berrien County. The terrible tragedy left us all feeling vulnerable. However, having unarmed security guards or even an armed deputy screening people coming and going would not have prevented the shootings.

We understand the push for more security, whether at county offices or at schools or even at home. It’s good to feel safe.

But we’re not convinced, at least now, that security proposals before the County Board are needed.

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Good viewpoint and well

Good viewpoint and well stated!