Sheriff eyes funds for court work

FONDA – Towns in Montgomery County have been requesting security in their courtrooms in recent years, and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office is requesting more funds to make sure it can do the work.

On Tuesday, the county legislature’s Public Safety Committee moved a resolution for the transfer of $10,000 from the county’s contingent account to the sheriff office’s budget.

The legislature will officially decide on the resolution at the full board meeting Jan. 28.

Sheriff Michael Amato said years ago the sheriff’s office could send deputies out to town courts occasionally to help with certain situations, such as high-profile cases.

However, Amato said the demand for deputies in town courtrooms has increased with more concerns about violence.

“The last couple of years there’s been a lot of heightened concern of issues in courtrooms,” he said. “You see it on TV; a lot of people bringing guns into small court rooms and shooting the court rooms up, threatening lawyers, and so on.”

As a result, the sheriff’s office had six of the 10 towns in the county asking for deputies for courtrooms. Over the last two years, Amato said, that work has been eating into the money for the road patrol.

Amato said he had to tell the courts in December that he couldn’t send deputies to court because there wasn’t any money left.

“I told [the town courts] that I had to wait until this year to see if the new legislative body would want to fund this duty that we do,” he said.

Amato said providing security for the six town courts averaged a little more than $6,000 – so roughly $1,000 per court.

Amato requested the legislature give the sheriff’s office $10,000 for doing court security.

“It might cost more this year because more towns might jump on board,” he said. “I figure $10,000 is a safe figure to put aside.”

The sheriff said he talked to county treasurer Shawn Bowerman on where to put the money in the budget and Bowerman suggested it go on the sheriff’s office overtime line.

Amato said he has a tracking system that will keep a running tally of the money spent, so he can let the legislature know how much of the $10,000 he uses throughout the year.