Sparta Township Plans To Increase Security In Municipal Courthouse
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 • 8:20am
SPARTA TOWNSHIP, NJ - In light of recent shootings around the country, Sparta Township has decided to develop a plan to increase security in the municipal courthouse.
Police Chief Ernest Reigstad explained when constructed in 2006, the courthouse was a model for other courthouses in the area of proper security. Due to the cost of, and little need for the screening, this step had been pushed off until now.
“This screening is pushed to the foreground after recent events,” Chief Reigstad said. “We are no longer just a traffic court.”
Reigstad explained that municipal courts now hold the first appearances of any criminals.
“We could have a murder suspect who has made bail come here for a first appearance," he said.
These different circumstances led to the need for increased security and the desire for more than one officer at a meeting.
Reigstad also expressed the problem with an officer working as the bailiff, as well as being responsible for a prisoner in the courthouse.
To help decrease the cost of an overtime officer spending time at the courthouse for security reasons, Reigstad suggested hiring special officers.
“These special officers would only work part-time, and would cost a quarter of the price of a full-time officer,” Reigstad said. “We could utilize local retired officers or officers who may have been laid off recently.”
The town would need two officers outside for the screening and general security, while the current bailiff, Sergeant John-Paul Beebe, would remain working inside the courtroom.
These part-time officers would cost $6,200 until the end of the year, if they were hired at the beginning of October.
The council members agreed that these new security steps need to be take,n and asked about the installation of a metal detecting screening devise at the entrance of the courthouse.
Township Manager David Troast and Reigstad said the courthouse currently has a metal detecting wand that could be tried first.
“In light of spending considerations, maybe we should try to use the wand we currently own first, the if it becomes a problem we can decide to purchase the machine,” Troast said.
In other business:
- The ordinance concerning the Solid Waste Late Fee was rejected, to be reintroduced after, Jesse Wolosky, a resident, pointed out a double penalty within the ordinance. The Solid Waste Bill already accrues 8 percent interest while it is not being paid. This ordinance would have added a late fee of 8 percent, which was intended to match other tax policies. After further discussion of the ordinance, the council decided it was a double penalty and needed to be reintroduced.
- Councilwoman Molly Whilesmith suggested employing a grant writing service for the township. She cited Hopatcong which has been able to receive $5 million in grants by using this service. The service would know how to find grants, write them correctly, and apply by the deadline. Currently, the township is using volunteers to investigate these things, which is difficult for anyone with a full-time job, she said.
- Two new water fountains are being installed at Ungermann Field. Currently the town engineer is trying to locate the best place to install the fountains with the piping needed.