From the perspective of a law enforcement officer, I want to offer a few reasons why our current courthouse is inadequate and why we need to replace it now.
Our deputy sheriffs are charged with serving the circuit courts and providing for the safety of the public, the court staff, the in-custody defendants, and the individuals seeking justice at the Lane County Courthouse. Because of the courthouse’s outdated and inadequate layout, inmates must be moved through public spaces where crime victims and witnesses are waiting. This leads to confrontations, stress, outbursts and even violence – that should be unacceptable to all of us and yet is unavoidable with the current building.
For similar reasons, inmates can enter courtrooms only by going through the workspaces of court staff and judges. These same inmates share our single elevator with staff, judges and attorneys. This is especially dangerous because the elevator breaks down not infrequently.
The remodeling of the existing courthouse over time in order to accommodate three times as many courtrooms as originally designed has not allowed for an appropriate emphasis on space design for safety and security. When a community member wishes to seek a domestic violence protective order they must do so waiting in a small public hallway. No separation of space results in deputy sheriffs having to respond to domestic disputes within the courthouse, or worse, in victims who are too afraid to come to the courthouse to seek an order.
Our courthouse was built for a different time before we had the security concerns of today. The courthouse is not as secure from external access as it needs to be.
Measure 20-299 will allow us to build a courthouse to meet today’s needs. Please join me in voting yes for a new courthouse.
LCSO Sheriff Cliff Harrold