Sunday, January 24, 2010

Security - at what price?

Yesterday I received one of those letters that I like so much ... the juicy ones.

This one asked whether I might take on wasteful spending and patronage at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department.

What's that, you say? There's "wasteful spending"? "Patronage"? You're kidding...

In a separate letter recently I was asked about the three vehicles at the sheriff's disposal. Now, why would one man need three vehicles at his disposal? A Tahoe, a squad car and, what was the third one?

(I do recall telling someone in Colorado that my perfect house would be a one-bedroom home with a six-car garage, but that assumed I might win the Lottery and be able to afford it out of my own income and assets, not off the taxpayers' nearly-unlimited spending account.) But I digress.

What does courthouse security cost the taxpayers? We all see the screening equipment at the entrances. And the huge number of security officers (guards) standing around. Is there a supervisor or chief who never makes the rounds to count noses and see how many are doing nothing?

Oh, but what if there is an emergency? Well, if there is, we are all dead. I mean, what if some mother hides a bomb in a stinky diaper? Is one of the guards going to dive into that diaper and find whatever is setting off the alarm? Oh, just looks like the diaper pins...

But what does security really cost the taxpayers? Wouldn't it be interesting to see a spreadsheet on that? Recently, there was something in the news about the security service for the Administration Building at 667 Ware Road. A private security service has the contract there, and those guards probably earn about $12.00/hour. If some miscreant went in there with evil on his mind, he'd have the drop on them in a heartbeat.

But what about the guards at the courthouse itself? What do they earn? And what do the supervisors earn? And the chief of security? What's the supervisory ratio there?

This particular letter writer mentioned a $100,000 salary for the chief of courthouse security. You've got to be kidding. And didn't Nygren take him to a meeting of the national police chiefs' association (or something like that) in Florida last year? Seems like I saw something in a blog about that.

Why do the lawyers who come and go every day have to stand in line like the rest of us sheep? Surely, there could be a procedure created to allow them to bypass the lines of us "common people."

Who makes the rules for the lawyers? Couldn't the chief of security set up a system that would create a photo ID for those who are in the building every morning and/or afternoon for appearances, hearings, trials, etc. They could have to apply for it and wait for it to be issued and then have it with them, and maybe they could be asked to enter the east door to avoid the stares and the catcalls when they stroll past the herd waiting to enter and queue up for the privilege of paying fines and exorbitant court costs. Of course, for most of them the parking in the east lot is limited.

Don't members of the bar get passes in Kane County to bypass court security? Why not here?


Mike said...

Really take issue with the "pass" for attorney's. Over the years, many shootings in courthouses have been carried out by "insiders" to the system. Lawyers, police officers (active and retired). Granted, many of these individuals were "known" problems but why take the chance that somebody slips through on a pass that shouldn't? As I understand it, only active LE who are NOT involved in a case of their own may enter the courthouse armed. EVERYONE else gets screened. That makes more sense to me.

Gus said...

Mike, thanks for the reminder of an article I wrote on April 20, after seeing the Woodstock police chief armed in a courtroom when he was a defendant in a civil case.

I didn't like that then, and I don't like it now.

Notawannabee said...

Even police officers if they are appearing for PERSONAL court business, are forbidden from carrying firearms. Only police that are testifying on behalf of their official duties may carry. Also Mike is correct. I have a friend that is a US Marshal and he said often Attorneys are often found carrying guns. Also the US Marshals Service strongly advises local courts against allowing lawyers to bypass security.

The building on Ware is not a courthouse. Those guys are Andy Fran ushers not Sworn Court Security. Also Court Security are not Deputies.

Gus said...

Verrry interestinnnnk!

Another Lawyer said...

Personally, as an attorney, I like to stand in the security line. It's just one more reminder--every single day--of what side I am on. Without that reminder, I might feel like I was an officer of the court, or someone who was supposed to help uphold the law of the land. As it is, it is made clear everyday ... I am a suspect, just like every other citzen. Checked carefully, and "cleared."

Heartwarming, every time.