Earlier this year, former circuit clerk Becky Paulus was chosen to serve as chairperson for the Prop C.O.P.S. Committee.
“As chairperson of the Prop C.O.P.S. Political Action Committee and the former Circuit Clerk of the courts of Perry County, I am supporting the proposition to allow a capital improvement sales tax of one-half of one percent that will appear on the April 6, 2021 ballot,” Paulus said. “My focus with this initiative is based on my experience as a court clerk for 20 years and the safety concerns that developed during my time of service with the security of the courts and all citizens served by the courts. While the courthouse is a beautiful, historic building, it is over 100 years old and was designed in an era where many of the security threats that exist in society today were a non-issue.”
A statement of committee organization for the Prop C.O.P.S. was officially filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission Jan. 14, 2021 by committee treasurer Kim Schnurbusch.
In addition, a Facebook page detailing the initiative was created in late January.
Scott Sattler, the Executive Director of the Economic Development Authority, is serving on the committee in the fund raiser capacity.
“The plan is to garner needed funds from several local corporations to cover the cost of informational materials needed to educate the public on this issue and the cost of advertising the initiative,” Paulus said.
Paulus described the difficulty of reaching voters ahead of decision day in April.
“The most challenging part for the committee in my opinion is the limited opportunity to have one on one conversations with voters due to the pandemic,” Paulus said. “Many events that normally take place in Perry County have been cancelled which could decrease the formal presentations that the committee members can provide. In my mind, there is no better way to share an idea with someone than by conversing and allowing them to ask questions.”
Paulus first learned of the justice center project several months ago.
She was invited by the County Clerk’s Office to an informational meeting explaining the joint justice center project last September.
“The efficiency and security features of this project appealed to me the most and seemed long overdue for Perry County,” Paulus said.
The justice center project’s capital improvement plans include combining facilities for the Perry County Sheriff’s Department, the City of Perryville Police Department, Perry County Emergency Management, the 911 Dispatch Center and the Perry County Circuit Court.
At this time, security at the courthouse is limited with the exception of officers who are physically present on court dates or called in the case of an emergency, Paulus said.
There is a tendency for emotions to often run high at the courthouse, Paulus said.
“Unfortunately, very few citizens visit the courts under pleasant circumstances,” Paulus said. “Often the fear, anger, and resentment felt by someone charged with or found guilty of a crime or an individual being sued or going through a domestic dispute is palpable.”
Court clerks and judges deal with these individuals on a daily basis and experience being the object of those sometimes volatile emotions, according to Paulus.
The joint justice center plans include a secure design along with installation of security systems and measures that have been well thought out to ensure the safety all agencies involved and all citizens seeking access to the courts or individuals who are incarcerated.