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Judicial Center security officers; hard to keep

When the Administrative Office of The Courts constructed the new Hancock County Judicial Center roughly 10-years ago, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office needed to hire five persons to serve as court security. Since the state mandated the hiring of the officers, the state provided pay for the officers.
“The state pays us $9 per hour,” Hancock County Sheriff Dale Bozarth said. “It was $8 per hour. Several months ago the state bumped it up to $9.”

In addition to receiving only $9 per hour, the guards also get only 20-hours per week. Due to the rate of pay and hours per week, the only persons able to actually take the job are retired persons.
“Anybody raising a family or trying to make a living cannot even think about taking the job,” Bozarth said. “It is not a high demand job as far as money.”

In an effort to make the job more enticing, Bozarth said he is examining ways to increase the pay of court security personnel. He said surrounding counties supplement their guards’ pay.
“Every county around us has a few full-time officers to do the job,” Bozarth said. “We do not, we have part-time officers.”

Bozarth said he is not considering hiring full-time guards simply due to the costs. He said going to full-time does open up the door to younger people applying for the job, but it also means providing insurance and paying retirement for them. “That adds dramatically to the cost,” Bozarth said. “With part-time people, we do not have that.”

Bozarth said he plans to bring up the issue to Hancock County Fiscal Court sometime in the future to see what avenues exist to increase court security personnel pay. Bozarth said a meeting needs to occur between him and members of the fiscal court so they can examine what surrounding counties do to supplement their court security personnel’s pay, and then see what fiscal court can do. Bozarth explained that since no line item exists in his budget for supplementing the guards’ pay, his office simply cannot increase their pay.
“It is a budget item they are going to have to allow money for,” Bozarth said.

By Ralph Dickerson


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