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Published: Monday, 5/12/2008

Part-timers for security at Toledo Municipal Court revisited

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Finkbeiner administration is again planning to cut costs at Toledo Municipal Court downtown by using part-time security rather than full-time Lucas County sheriff s deputies.

The same plan was not executed this year after months of wrangling among the court s judges, City Council, and the mayor s office.

The decision to utilize part-time employees for security in lieu of Lucas County sheriff s deputies was made solely for economic issues, Robert Reinbolt, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner s chief of staff, wrote in a letter last week to Sheriff James Telb.

The 23 deputies who screen visitors, guard the court, move prisoners throughout the building, and take people into custody would remain there until Dec. 31.

Presiding Judge Tim Kuhlman said the court s judges will oppose the move, as they did earlier this year.

They not only keep the court safe, but they help us complete the dockets, he said.

The judge said many situations are averted by the deputies there now. Last week, he said, it took four deputies to restrain a troublesome prisoner.

We are going to issue orders and we are not going to allow part-time security in this building, Judge Kuhlman said. You wouldn t use part-time police on the streets of Toledo, so why would you use them in a building where all the criminals have been taken?

Councilman D. Michael Collins for years has supported plans to pull the deputies from the municipal court.

I still hold out hope that there can be a balance in terms of security issues, Mr. Collins said. I feel very strongly that having the retired officers at the points of entry, just as they are at the county [courthouse], would be a great cost savings.

He added: When we receive our 2009 budget in November, I will not support the current security arrangements.

Mr. Collins said each deputy costs an average of $83,000 in salary and benefits. He estimated the city could save $800,000 annually by altering the security.

The Finkbeiner administration negotiated with the municipal court judges and the clerk of court after it announced sweeping cuts for 2008, totaling $4.6 million for the entire criminal justice system.

The Finkbeiner administration backed down on the security cutbacks, but still trimmed the court s budget.

Sheriff Telb said he d reassign the 23 deputies if the plan was followed and forgo hiring a class of new deputies later this year.

I think the municipal court judges are going to challenge that proposal, so I can t tell you for sure, he said.

The sheriff said he was not in favor of the plan to use part-time peace officers.

I think it s necessary to have a full-time force of officers, with the same ones every day to keep the place safe, Sheriff Telb said.

Not to challenge the capabilities of any peace officer, but when it s a part-time basis, you sometimes don t have the same commitment as those who work there and that s their job, the sheriff said.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.



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