SHIAWASSEE COUNTY SHERIFF Brian BeGole spoke during the Board of Commissioners’ Committee of the Whole meeting on Wednesday, April 11, advocating for the addition of a full-time sheriff’s deputy to serve as a bailiff in the Probate/Family Court. Sheriff BeGole described the many responsibilities the deputy would handle, if and when the new position is created. The deputy’s primary function would be to provide court security on the second floor of the Shiawassee County Courthouse, but he/she would also serve outstanding warrants, transport juveniles, and handle LEIN responsibilities for the county, among other duties.
District 5 Commissioner Jeremy Root praised the sheriff for working to improve the security of the Probate/Family Court, but he admitted he was apprehensive about approving the new position without a defined job description.
“I certainly understand the need, but meetings have been ongoing for several months and we have not been able to reach an agreement,” stated Root on April 11. “The sheriff is trying to fix a problem. He has been creative, he has come up with solutions, but he is being thwarted at every turn. One day it’s agreed to, the next day it’s not. I would support this position, and I thank the sheriff for all his hard work, but I cannot support the addition if warrant collection and LEIN responsibilities are removed from the job description.”
The commissioners voted, by a five to two margin, to table the agenda item until May. Commissioners Root and Dan McMaster cast the two “No” votes.
(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)
by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
The Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners tabled an agenda item during its Committee of the Whole meeting on Wednesday, April 11 that would have authorized the Probate/Family Court to assign a deputy sheriff to serve as a full-time bailiff. In addition to providing court security, the deputy would handle warrant collections, juvenile transport and LEIN duties, and would be made available to accompany probation and parole officers on home visits.
The agenda item was tabled because the commissioners and Sheriff Brian BeGole are awaiting approval from judges Ward Clarkson, Matt Stewart and Thomas Dignan. The judges’ approval is required in order for the new deputy to handle warrant collections and LEIN responsibilities. The commissioners have several meetings planned with the judges and LEIN representatives in the coming weeks, with hopes of authorizing the creation of the position in May.
Though the annual cost of the adding the new position would be $82,477, the Probate/Family Court would cover all but $30,000 to $35,000 of the expense. District 2 Commissioner Dan McMaster advocated for the addition of the bailiff.
“My concern is for the safety of the probate judge and the staff over there, who have been assaulted and have numerous issues with defendants and their families,” stated McMaster on April 11. “I think it is necessary that we provide security on the second floor. In my opinion, $30,000 is a cheap price to pay for the security of our employees and elected officials. People get very emotional when parental rights are being terminated or juveniles are being sent away, and this creates some potentially dangerous situations.”
Sheriff BeGole and the commissioners have been working to add a bailiff to the Probate/Family Court for approximately six months now, so the commissioners would not approve the agenda item until an agreement has been reached by all involved parties.
“We heard from Judge Dignan earlier this week and I thought everyone was on board to create this position,” said District 4 Commissioner Brandon Marks, the vice chairman of the board. “And now, here we are at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Wednesday, and half the job description is off the table. Where did the breakdown happen? How can we reach a sensible solution? I see the need for security, but we have to know the job description before we vote.”