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Justices want more security for court

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Shelter Island Justice Court
REPORTER FILE PHOTO Shelter Island Justice Court

Security is the name of the game when it comes to the 2019 budget for Justice Court.Justice Mary-Faith Westervelt told the Town Board Friday that Shelter Island is the only area court without a security officer, explaining why there is a request for $5,425 in the 2019 budget to pay for services of a guard — likely one who already serves that role in Southold.

The Justice Court budget would go from $147,663 this year to $160,370 if the Town Board approves the spending plan that also includes some new equipment the court needs, and modest raises for both Ms. Westervelt and Justice Helen Rosenblum and their full-time clerk, Nancy Kotula. Their part-time clerk would also receive a small raise.

Ms. Westervelt said the Police Department currently provides a part-time officer who stands at the front of the room. But people come and go from the back of the court with no means of assuring they’re not bringing weapons into the court.

Increased concern about the use of opioids that might be used by some entering the courtroom also calls for better security, Ms. Westervelt said.

She has also applied for a grant that could pay the cost of a bullet proof glass that would be fitted above the dutch opens half way and between the courtroom and judges’ chambers.

Currently, the only security is a panic button that would alert police, but it could still take them minutes to get to the courtroom.

On the plus side of the ledger, Ms. Westervelt said she just got figures showing that of almost $18,000 paid in fines in August, the town received more than $15,000, so there is an income side of the operation.

The Town Board seemed satisfied with what they heard, but a final decision won’t be forthcoming until they solidify the overall town budget in late October or November.

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