Officials are taking local courtroom security one step further with a decision to appoint a bailiff unit.

In a letter to the Livingston County Board of Commissioners, Chief Judge David J. Reader says in the last few years there have been “…too many incidents of courtroom violence occurring not only in Michigan but across the nation as well.” Judge Reader says he has discussed with his fellow judges, Sheriff Mike Murphy, personnel from the State Court Administrative Office, and court administrators about how to address the “…growing concern for safety within our court system.”

Reader’s resolution, in concurrence with Sheriff Murphy, is to have courtroom security handled by Court Security Officers reporting directly to the courts. Each of the six courtrooms would have a dedicated, full-time Court Security Officer responsible for court security, bailiff, and related duties. One of the six officers would be classified as a Lead Court Security Officer who would coordinate schedules and training, while also providing the same courtroom duties. The officers would be deputized by the Sheriff, as opposed to courtroom security currently being handled by the Court Service Unit Deputies reporting to the Sheriff.

The cost to appoint a bailiff to each judge for a total of six full-time officers will be $320,000. $140,000 of that will be transferred from the Sheriff’s budget into the court’s budget, and another $180,000 will be added to the court’s budget. Judge Reader’s request to authorize the unit was unanimously approved by the county’s Board of Commissioners Monday night. (JM)