READER FORUM: How about a countywide court?

The combination of the Sandusky and Perkins police departments is a disaster waiting to happen. First, the Erie County Sheriff's dep
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

The combination of the Sandusky and Perkins police departments is a disaster waiting to happen. First, the Erie County Sheriff's department is more than adequately equipped to house misdemeanants, Why not just expand the sheriff's department? The sheriff has jurisdiction throughout the county. Not only would expansion of the sheriff's department assist other townships with their "misdemeanants," it would also curtail any future inevitable disputes between Perkins Township and Sandusky.

Look at the number of local residents who should be granted a recognizance bond but instead are either kept in jail for the weekend or granted release if they plead out or waive a preliminary hearing. You have people who have lived here all their lives who cannot get a recognizance bond until they have sat in jail for a weekend.

Why not look at an Erie County Court that would encompass the entire county and abolish the existing municipal courts? We need our leaders to be visionaries. I hope our future is not being decided by a couple of police chiefs and some citizens sitting around eating doughnuts. It is now time for a more futuristic look at our communities; a "joint-jail" in an abandoned store is shortsighted.

Why not have a complex in downtown Sandusky by the Erie County Courthouse? This complex could serve the needs of the county and could be state-of-the-art facility. In Ottawa County, a county with about the same square mileage as Erie county, but half the population, there is a countywide municipal court with one judge and the cases are prosecuted by the county prosecutor's office.

One judge in Ottawa County does what four do in Erie County, where we have four municipal court judges and host of city solicitors and prosecutors prosecuting misdemeanors and felony probable cause hearings. Those four courts also have four clerks of courts with numerous clerks doing duplicative services. Why not combine all the municipal courts with two judges (one civil and one criminal), one set of clerks, (under the Erie County Clerk of Courts) and have the Erie County Prosecutor's office prosecute the crimes. We would have consistent prosecutions and judgments.

With the "joint-jail" Sandusky and Perkins would be saddled with the costs of the Sandusky Municipal Court's existing costs along with whatever the new costs will be of the white elephant in waiting.

Fred Farris

Sandusky