As the next state budget season quickly approaches (I know, doesn’t it seem like we just ended that last drama a week ago?), there’s been a fair amount of chatter about the future of courthouse security.
That talk kicked up a notch over the weekend when the Bakersfield Californian reported that the Judicial Council in January will consider shifting security control from sheriffs to a new branch force.
Council spokesman Lynn Holton said Monday that “there are no plans” to put the idea up for a vote in two months. “Our only plan,” she said in an email, “is to continue to work with the sheriffs for adequate funding and appropriate security standards.”
Was there a Kernel of truth in the Californian’s report?
That’s plenty of negotiating work by itself. The sheriffs say they’re not getting paid enough to cover the costs of adequate security. AOC leaders counter that the sheriffs’ costs are rising too fast.
The Legislature would have to approve any move to replace sheriff’s deputies with a new courtroom force, and there doesn’t seem to be much support among lawmakers for doing that, let alone among judges and the politically popular sheriffs.
The sheriffs, though, may take matters into their own hands. Nick Warner, a lobbyist for the California Sheriffs Association, said Monday that his members are cooking up their own plan to shift control of courthouse security funding directly to local sheriffs and courts.
“We’re going to put forth our own proposal,” Warner said. “We’re done playing defense.”
The spending and staffing would be controlled by a “strict, annual memorandum of understanding” drafted at the local level.
Expect to see legislation reflecting the proposal unveiled soon, he said.
— Cheryl Miller