COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Keith Ferrell, president of the Capital City Lodge of The Fraternal Order of Police sent letters Tuesday to the Franklin County Commissioners urging them to increase funding for courthouse security.
Ferrell said the courts are growing more crowded with defendants and others but that the staffing of deputies has not kept pace. “While the number of judges and courthouse personnel also have increased, funding has not been made available to provide additional deputies needed to ensure a level of security that is essential in this environment,” Ferrell wrote.
The issue has been brewing for some time now.
Ferrell points to the fatal shooting of a teenage defendant by Deputy Richard Scarborough in January 2018 as evidence of understaffing. “Despite evidence that an inadequate law enforcement presence in the courthouse contributed to this incident, there has been no action taken to fund the additional Deputy Sheriff positions that are needed to improve courthouse safety,” Ferrell wrote.
Since the shooting, the county has added dozens of security cameras around the courthouse.
At a news conference Tuesday, Ferrell said the cameras are a useful tool but that additional manpower is the way to de-escalate situations before they get out of hand. “We need to put the resources in place to allow these people to effectively do their jobs,” Ferrell said. “You’re setting them up for failure. That’s not fair to the deputies. That’s not fair to the public.”
The FOP filed a grievance with the Sheriff’s Office over the staffing issue. Ferrell said the two sides have been unable to resolve the grievance so they are headed to third-party arbitration.
A spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office said a request for funding for additional deputies was included in the last budget proposal and will be part of the next budget proposal.
Ferrell said it’s time for action. “We’re just saying the time is now,” he said. “We’ve kicked the can enough and the public doesn’t deserve that and neither do our deputies.”