Office of Public Affairs & Media Relations
Update: 1:21 p.m. - 07/20/17
This item was approved unanimously today by the Volusia County Council.
VCSO TO ADD PRIVATE SECURITY AT VOLUSIA COURTHOUSES, PENDING COUNTY COUNCIL APPROVAL
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office is moving forward with a plan to augment front-door security at Volusia County courthouses with private security guards, increasing the number of deputies available for other court security duties while reducing overtime costs.
Pending the Volusia County Council’s approval Thursday, the VCSO’s proposed $376,000 annual contract with G4S Inc. will place eight private security guards at the front doors of five court facilities in Volusia County:
“This plan keeps our courthouses safe, puts deputies back into positions that have gone vacant and saves us money in the long run,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood said. “It’s a win-win. We’re protecting our court system and safeguarding the taxpayers’ money at the same time.”
One deputy will remain assigned to each courthouse entrance – down from the three it takes to perform full security screenings at the main courthouses during peak hours. At each location, that remaining deputy will oversee the screening process and man the security bypass line provided for court and law enforcement personnel.
The plan is expected return 7 deputies to other duties in Court Services, which has been operating with 14 vacancies. And it will add Volusia to a long list of counties in Florida that use private security firms in courthouses, including: Flagler, St. Johns, Putnam, Brevard, Jacksonville, Lake, Pinellas, Orange, Broward, Hillsborough, Polk, Collier, Hernando, Sarasota and Sumter. All but the first four on that list are on contracts with G4S. The company provides court security for five of the seven biggest county courthouses in Florida.
The cost difference is substantial. A VCSO deputy costs $48.56 an hour when pay, benefits, equipment, training and personal leave costs are included. A G4S Level 3 armed security officer costs $23.23 to $25.63 an hour. Over a year’s time, the privatization plan is expected to cost about $330,000 less (estimated) than the current structure. The contract is for two years.
On average, Volusia deputies screen 600,000 people per year at courthouse entrances. The number has been gradually declining for the past 5 years, from a high of more than 711,000 in 2012 to less than 560,000 last year. The security screening includes an X-ray scan, a walk-through magnetometer and a hand-wand check if needed.
The G4S agreement gives the Sheriff’s Office the ability to interview and run background investigations on security guard candidates – just like deputy candidates –before they’re assigned to a courthouse. Those steps will be in addition to the screening and evaluation program G4S conducts in its own hiring process.
“We won’t accept anything less than quality people in these positions – and we’ll have strict processes in place to make sure we take a hard look at every one of them,” Chitwood said. “Every single person who steps inside one of our courthouses has to know they’re in a safe place. They are today, and they always will be. This plan will only make us better and more efficient.”
Administrative offices: West Volusia 386-736-5961 Daytona Beach 386-254-4689 New Smyrna Beach 386-423-3352
Non-emergency dispatch numbers: DeLand 386-943-8276 Daytona Beach 386-239-8276 New Smyrna Beach 386-409-8276 Osteen 407-323-0151