State troopers to remain outside urban courthouses another week

Bridgeport courthouse, Golden Hill Street

CT Judicial Branch

Bridgeport courthouse on Golden Hill Street

As most state Judicial Branch layoffs took effect Thursday — including elimination of 101 marshal posts — the branch announced state police troopers would be retained for a second week to patrol outside of courthouses in four major cities.

Branch spokeswoman Rhonda Stearley-Hebert wrote the troopers would secure the perimeter of courthouses next week in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven and Waterbury. Court officials will reassess the situation, which they have said is temporary, at the end of next week.

The extra security first was ordered June 17 in response to gang-related violence that had occurred one day earlier outside of the Superior Court on Golden Hill Street in Bridgeport.

Branch officials expanded it this week, paying troopers overtime to patrol outside courthouses in the four cities. Troopers — unlike marshals — are permitted to carry guns, and have been hired in the past to enhance security, particularly if gang activity has occurred, officials said.

The union representing the marshals asserts that marshals should be authorized to carry firearms.

The troopers are being paid between $60 and $75 per hour.

And while branch officials have said this added security was not ordered in response to the layoffs, the head of the judicial marshals’ union, has been skeptical.

Joe Gaetano, president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, wrote Thursday in a statement with other union leaders that the layoffs are a mistake.

“At close of business today, June 23, the layoff of 289 Judicial Branch employees will take effect, including Judicial Marshals and Security Officers, Adult and Juvenile Probation Officers, Clinical Coordinators, Family Relation Counselors, Juvenile Classification Program Officers, Public Defender Social Workers, Juvenile Detention Officers and Staff, and Intake, Assessment and Referral Specialists.

“We understand the state’s need for austerity in these difficult economic times,” Gaetano wrote in a joint statement with Charles Della Rocco, president of Local 740 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and Carmen Roda, who heads the Judicial Professional Employees Union. “But we continue to raise concerns about the impact on public safety and the efficient and safe workflow at our courthouses by reducing already short-handed security and staff in 43 courthouses. We ask, again, that the Judicial Branch consider alternative options to maintain as many front-line public safety staff as possible.”

Court officials have ordered 239 layoffs to date.

Besides the 101 marshals, other jobs eliminated include: various juvenile detention facility staff; food services assistants; other security personnel; clinical and case management coordinators; family relations counselors; probation officers; and other specialists.

Branch officials also terminated 61 temporary court support staff.