Letter: Joining our Courts, Police Department, and Sheriff’s Departments

Posted

To the Editor:
In the April Election an important ballot measure will be presented to the citizens of Perry County for funding construction of a Joint Justice Center as “Prop COPS.” As your Circuit Clerk, I am highly in favor of this effort.
Our Courthouse is the pride and face of our community. It offers a beautiful background to many events but the practicality of it is not what we need for a fully functioning courthouse. I feel that it is often forgotten that we are conducting court business which is not pretty or happy in most situations.
After I began office in January 2019, I was quickly made aware of the lack of security our courts offer to visitors and staff. While staff works together to help keep everyone safe, the lack of a dedicated deputy to screen people entering the building at all times and to monitor tense situations makes conducting court business unsafe.
Having a Joint Justice Center will create a secure entry to the courts and will have deputies and officers nearby at all times. There will be no wait for a response to an emergency call from my office that unfortunately is necessary from time to time.
Further, hallways are shared by all, whether you are a party to a case, witness, attorney, juror, court staff, judge, or shackled prisoners. We are all passing by each other to get to and from the courtrooms. Drug screening also takes place in a shared hallway and public restrooms. These problems are easily addressed in a Joint Justice Center.
Joining our Courts, Police Department, and Sheriff’s Departments in one location makes sense for all of our citizens.

Jennifer Hotop,
Perry County Circuit Clerk

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