Haverstraw town’s plan to improve court security
Haverstraw town announced this week its plan to improve court security, using the grant the town recently received from the state Office of Court Administration.
Towns and villages in the county have been awarded the state grants ranging from $2,000 to $29,000. Haverstraw town got the second highest amount, $24,826.
Haverstraw town Supervisor Howard Phillips said part of the grant, about $5,000, would be used to purchase a walk-through metal detector. The rest of the money will be used to finance reconstruction of the bench.
A judge and a court clerk at Haverstraw town Justice Court are currently sitting at the same level with all other people in the courtroom. County Judge Charles Apotheker, who has served as a Haverstraw town justice for 26 years before being elected to the county position in 2006, said the current bench at the Haverstraw court was in a “strangle distance,” and it needed to be elevated for safety reason.
Achieving court safety will cost the town more than the grant money.
Phillips said the cost for the bench reconstruction project would exceed the money from the grant. Also, to operate the metal detector, the town would have to hire two more part-time court officers. Annual salaries for the two part-time court officers would be between $8,000 and $10,000, he said.
Apotheker said he was suggesting town supervisors and village mayors to consider lobbing state representatives to pass state legislation that would allow local municipalities to add surcharges on top of fines.
“There are many penalty assessments added onto fines, and most of them, I think all of them, kept by the state,” Apotheker said. “They could consider passing a law, statewide, that would provide another penalty assessment that goes back to the towns and villages for them to pay for the cost of security.”