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Archive for Monday, April 24, 1995

COUNTY WEIGHS SECURITY COSTS

April 24, 1995

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The Douglas County sheriff says his budget is so tight that he doesn't know how his office could respond to a commissioner's call for increased security at the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center.

Financial questions coming out of a debate over the need for beefed-up courthouse security may be a preview of this year's county budget hearings.

Douglas County Sheriff Loren Anderson told county commissioners this morning that he doesn't know how he'd fund additional security measures at the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center.

``We're kind of being asked to be conservative in our budget request, to say the least,'' Anderson said.

Commissioner Jim Chappell has called for a 5 percent cut in the 1996 county budget and no adjustment for inflation, which in real terms would shave 8 percent off county expenditures next year.

Chappell, who is concerned about the potential for a violent incident in the JLE Center, also has asked county staff to study the need for perimeter security in that building. Such a move would involve installing metal detectors at its four entrances.

Anderson agreed to prepare a report but said he didn't have the resources to provide additional security.

``I didn't ask for any more deputies in this budget,'' he said.

Anderson noted that he's already losing the ability to juggle resources to meet emergencies. Last year, the sheriff's office paid overtime to increase patrols during a wave of burglaries in rural Douglas County.

``I can't do that anymore,'' Anderson said, adding that the incidence of rural burglary is back up to three to five a week.

``We're simply responding and taking reports,'' he said.

``I would feel more priority to be able to patrol more than to put more personnel here,'' the sheriff said, referring to the county's office and court complex at 11th and Massachusetts.

Commissioner Mark Buhler said the JLE Center probably wasn't the only place that aggrieved people have business with the county and that any study should include the county offices.

``I'm thinking of the assessor's office and the pay window at the treasurer's office,'' Buhler said.

``My only other concern is the mixed signal we're sending people about cutting the budget and spending money,'' he said.

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