Click photo to enlarge
Securitas will provide security in court houses in Brattleboro and Newfane, replacing the deputies from the Windham County Sheriff's Office, starting on Sept. 1. In this picture, Mariam J. Belarj, 20, is arraigned in Windham County Superior Court Criminal Division on Aug. 1.

BRATTLEBORO >> The state of Vermont has finalized a contract with a private company to supply security guards at the Windham Superior Court in Brattleboro and Newfane.

The $618,255 contract pays for five security officers — two unarmed, at $35.84 per hour, and three armed, at $42.54 per hour — to cover both the courthouses for the next 22 months. The hourly rate includes benefits and insurances. There's an option to extend the contract by 12 months.

The 12-month cost to provide 10,400 man-hours of service at 200 hours per week in Windham County is $276,328. The contract also includes firearms, vests and duty gear such as uniforms, handcuffs and pepper Tspray.

Securitas also will provide security to the civil and probate court houses in Burlington at a cost of $60,902, which pays for one court officer for 42.5 hours.

The Windham County contract was signed between the state of Vermont, Judicial Branch, Office of the Court Administrator, and Securitas Security Services USA Inc., with a principal place of business at One Harbor Street in Boston. The company will take over on Sept. 1.

According to the contract, "The security workforce provided through this contract is to protect life and property, deter criminal activity, detect and manage any security concerns at the court facilities."


Advertisement

Positions covered by the contract include one officer to screen all people entering the court house, who will also be responsible to monitor the security cameras and duress alarm system, and to detect and respond to any emergency or security threat in or near the courthouse.

In addition, one officer will be assigned to patrol the court house, court rooms and the perimeter of the building "while protecting judges, staff, witnesses, jury, litigants and the general public." This officer may also be required to cover for the court officer and screening officer "due to workload requirements, high risk situations or to cover personnel breaks or absences." The officers can also be assigned to either court house.

While Securitas will be responsible for screening all its applicants for the positions, the state will have the authority to approve the officers. "Most felony convictions would be presumptively disqualifying," states the contract.

The officers will be required to obtain 40 hours of training from the state to obtain to receive their security officer license and eight to 16 hours of court specific training as well as for the armed officers, 16 hours of firearms training and certification to include range time. Other training includes handcuffing certification, management of aggressive behavior, first aid and CPR.

Securitas is also responsible for all individual retirement benefits, group life insurance, group health and dental insurance, vacation or sick leave, workers compensation or other benefits.

The Office of the Court Administrator published a request for proposals after it reached a stalemate with the Windham County Sheriff's Office over the contract.

Sheriff Keith Clark previously told the Reformer that a 10 to 12 percent increase would have been needed in order to break even on the courthouse security detail. He said he had only been offered an increase of 3 percent and had voiced concern about the issue for a couple of years.

The court administrator had made an offer to the sheriff that was 6 percent less than the contract issued to Securitas, but Clark was asking for a 35 percent increase to continue security at the court house.

According to Securitas' 2015 annual report, about 330,000 are employed by the company and work in 53 countries. Securitas USA is a subsidiary of Securitas AB, which is based in Sweden. Securitas was hired at nuclear plant Vermont Yankee in Vernon, which is currently being decommissioned.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 160.