Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Thomas Garcia
Staff writer 

Security increase at courthouse denied

The request was brought to commission meeting in November.

 

January 10, 2018



A request by 10th Judicial District Court Judge Albert Mitchell for increased security measures for the county courthouse building was denied Monday by County Commissioners.

“I did some research, and our current security is no different than the other counties in the state where the courthouse shares a building with county offices,” said Franklin McCasland, Commission chair.

In November, Mitchell and Quay County Sheriff Russell Shafer aired their desires during a regular meeting to implement increased security at the courthouse.

One of these measures would be to restrict access to the courthouse to the north door. The door, with handicap accessibility, would also have a manned security station with a metal detector.

“One of the primary concerns of restriction access is the possible intimidation of voters,” said Ellen White, Quay County Clerk.

White said the Clerk’s office is primary location for early and absentee voting for the upcoming election. She said federal and state regulations mandate that during an election the Clerk’s office must provide unrestricted access to voters and accommodate high traffic volume.

“I cannot support the restriction of access to the courthouse to one entrance,” McCasland said. “This county commission has a statutory obligation to provide unrestricted access for voters to this building without the perception of intimidation. In my opinion, our law abiding tax-paying citizens do not deserve to go through security when they come in to file a deed, pay taxes or conduct business when they come into this building.”

McCasland said while he would not support restricting access to the building, he would support increased security measures in administrative offices. He said this could include panic alarms and paneled dividers separating the staff from the public.

“I agree with Franklin in not supporting the restriction of access and directing the manager to look into increased measures in the administrative offices,” Cherry said.

Dowell said there is already a person employed by the courtroom for security, as well as security measures already in place, including screening by a metal detector.

The commission voted unanimously to not support the increased security measures.

Commissioners also took no action on a request by Judge Mitchell’s increased security request for the lunch hour at the courthouse.

On top of the already approved locking of the courthouse at noon, Mitchell’s recent request included the presence of a Quay County Sheriff Deputy.

“My main concern is this commission does not have the ability to tell the sheriff where to assign personnel,” McCasland said.

Cherry said one of the conflicts with the request is the court’s scheduling of hearings. He said there are some courts set to begin at 1 p.m. If the courthouse is locked for lunch, someone will have to be present to screen those coming in before the end of the lunch hour.

“I agree with Commissioner McCasland, we have no right to tell a department head what to do with their personnel,” Dowell said.

“I appreciate all of the work, research the commission has done looking into this matter,” Mitchell said when reached Tuesday. “I only wish that I would have been notified the security measures were on Monday's agenda.”

Other items before the commissioners:

• The commission approved Resolution No. 20, adopting the procedures for compliance with annual audits and public information.

• Tucumcari Rawhide Days coordinator Karen Alarcon requested the waiving of fees for the use of the Quay County Fairgrounds for this years event May 4-5 The commission approved the waiving of the fees. Alarcon also requested an $850 donation for prizes for the planned TRD Ranch Rodeo. McCasland said the commission could not make the donation for the prizes as the organizers are not a non-profit entity.

• Andrea Shafer requested the approval of Resolution No. 19 for the submission of the DWI Grant and Distribution funds that include a new assurance of DWI Grant and Distribution, Memorandum of Understanding and Department of Health Assurances and cooperative agreements. “These are requirements the county has already agreed to met these requirements in the past, it is only recently that they need to be included in writing for the submission,” said Richard Primrose, county manager. The resolution was approved.

• The Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corp., Executive Director Patrick Vanderpool gave a quarterly report.

• Quay County Fire Marshall Donald Adams requested the approval of the EMS Fund Act 2019 application for District 1, Quay Fire, Forrest Fire and Bard-Edee Departments. The applications were approved.

Adams also requested the approval of Resolution No. 21 for the submission of a application to the New Mexico Finance Authority for a loan of $150,000 for the purchase of a wildland truck for the Forrest Fire Department. Adams said in total the truck will cost $277,101. The resolution was approved.

• Primrose requested the approval of a professional service agreement with Clinton D. Harden and Associates for $4,800 for lobbying on behalf of Quay County’s interests in the upcoming legislative session. Dowell added a stipulation for a summary outlining what issues were covered on behalf of the county during the session. The amended professional service agreement was approved.

• The commission approved the hiring of RC Web services for the development and maintaining of county’s website. Dowell said making the website available to the public is a priority for the upcoming elections as well as efforts to attract businesses to the area. The contract is for a total of $5,000.

 

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