Part-time guards have stepped into deputy territory, and the Fraternal Order of Police doesn't like it.
A civil complaint was filed Friday in Erie County Common Pleas Court by the FOP against the Erie County Commissioners and Family Court Judge Robert DeLamatre.
The officials heading up courthouse security are putting building visitors' safety in peril, contends the FOP, which represents employees of the Erie County Sheriff's office.
Just this week, four part-time, unarmed security guards started manning a weapons screeningmachine at the courthouse entrance.
The complaint regards "the increased risk of injury, harm and loss that may result if non-deputies are employed to provide security for the courthouse," the filing states.
By hiring non-deputies, officials "have dramatically increased the likelihood that harm could result to individuals in or near the courthouse," the complaint adds.
Four full-time deputies still man the courthouse and transport prisoners. They are bonded officers with firearms and the power of arrest -- something the security guards don't have.
A temporary restraining order has also been requested by the FOP to return courthouse security to its pre-security guards state. A hearing on the proposal is slated for 10 a.m. Monday in Erie County Common Pleas Court. Visiting Judge Charles Abood will preside. Erie County commissioner Nancy McKeen said the decision not to hire deputies to guard the entrance was a financial one.
"I think what we want to do is the right thing to do," McKeen said Friday. "We cannot afford two moredeputies. The money simply isn't there."
Paying for wages and benefits for two full-time deputies would be more costly than the four part-time security guards, she said.
"When you've got full time, you've got benefits involved," McKeen said. "And each year the cost increases."
The deputies' union would not allow hiring of part-time armed officers, she added.
"I'd just as soon go outside," she said. "I understand it's up and running and working well so far."
Erie County commissioner Bill Monaghan said Friday he had not yet reviewed the complaint.
"If you go around to the different counties in Ohio, you will find the same thing," he said of the part-time security guards. Monaghan said he has visited several airports through the years that employ the same type of security methods.