Almost three months after the York County Council declined to approve the sheriff’s hiring six new deputies to bolster court security, the council will again take up Sheriff Bruce Bryant’s request for more officers when it meets Monday night.
Bryant asked the council earlier this year for the six positions, saying he had been forced to take deputies from patrol and other duties to fill mandated court security roles. Some councilmen said that open deputy slots for other jobs should be cut if new jobs were added, but Bryant kept pushing for the positions.
The cost of hiring six new deputies is about $220,000, plus the cost of benefits.
Court security officers are not a choice but a requirement, Bryant said.
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“I am hopeful the county will grant this,” he said. “We have made our case.”
Court security has become a significant issue nationally in the wake of courthouse attacks and shootings. York’s Moss Justice Center soon will be renovated to add new security features after voters approved a bond package of almost $90 million that included the upgrades.
The historic York County Courthouse in downtown York, which will again house civil court and other functions, re-opens in December after almost $10 million in remodeling. That building will require deputies to handle security.
Unlike most South Carolina counties that have one courthouse, which allows for streamlined security, York County has to spread officers to at least three courthouses – sometimes more – to protect the public and court staff.
Also Monday, the County Council will consider adding $1.5 million to the building plan for a new Family Court building, adding space needed after passage of a new state law that directs 17-year-old offenders to Family Court, instead of Circuit Court, where they have been prosecuted for years. That will add hundreds of cases to Family Court dockets, 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett has said.