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March 23, 2014

Courthouse security talks continue

CLAREMORE —

The Rogers County Commissioners will discuss courthouse security again Monday, continuing the debate over control of building access.
Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton is trying to get the commissioners to release supervision of the keys to his office.
Currently, the commissioner’s secretary, maintenance director and human resource director supervise the keys.
Recently the board voted to provide key cards to attorneys who practice in the building.
The sheriff claims his authority under state law requires him to provide courthouse security and to do so he must control who has access. 
Courthouse security includes control of electronic key cards, standard keys, electronic monitoring (video surveillance) and x-ray scans upon entry to the building. The key cards are used in lieu of traditional keys.
Two of the three commissioners have questioned this law, requesting the district attorney’s office issue a legal opinion.
Commissioner Dan DeLozier has supported Walton’s efforts stating at the March 10 meeting “I believe this should be a decision of the Sheriff.  DeLozier attempted to get the board to relinquish control in that meeting but was met with opposition.
“That matter is not on the agenda and it would be inappropriate to discuss it,” said David Iski, assistant district attorney.
The key card debate began in September 2013 when the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office sought key card access for Claremore Police Department.
That request, however, was denied and led to a series of discussions about who should or should not have access to the building.
On Monday, the board will revisit the details of who will manage courthouse security and the key card system.
According to state law, courthouse security is an obligation of the sheriff.
Title 19 Oklahoma Statutes Section 516 states: “The sheriff, in addition to the duties pursuant to subsection A of this section, shall coordinate and administer courthouse security.”
“As far as the court system is concerned, it is not a board decision. That is the issue and the problem we have had,” said District Judge Sheila Condren. “It is clear by statute this is a function of the sheriff’s office.”
“That matter is not on the agenda and it would be inappropriate to discuss it,” Iski said.

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