By Tom Bexley
I have been reading and hearing lately about the availability of space that my office has at the courthouse. Specifically, as it relates to the Sheriff’s needs at the courthouse and the current disruption of his office. While I do care about the disruption of his office and how it affects his operations, I have been asking myself lately about the current disruption to my office and how this has affected my operations.
While it was true at the time the sheriff evacuated the Operations Center in June that I had to limit my services to the public, I felt the need to help a fellow constitutional officer and his employees when it was declared that the Sheriff’s Operations Center was unsafe for his people. In fact, I was the one who initially offered the space that he is currently occupying. To be clear, that space included our wedding chapel, the information area space as you walk in past security, the IT training facility that his detectives currently occupy (which had to be dismantled), a portion of space in our criminal/civil division, an office in our records division, a portion of space in our finance suite and our entire injunction suite.
All of this was done in the spirit of cooperation and was done willingly and without any input from the Flagler County sheriff or the Board of County Commissioners. While it did not completely accommodate all of the sheriff’s office’s needs, it did provide a safe working environment for 60 or so of his employees that currently occupy the courthouse, and he was grateful at the time.
Further consideration had been given to other parts of my office but no other space could be given without directly interfering with the core responsibilities dictated to me by the state Constitution, state law and by judicial rules.
I have heard the sheriff, the County Commission and others mention that the sheriff’s operations are now fragmented and have no continuity, which I have no doubt is true. However, I can’t help but ask that if more space is taken from my office, will my operations be just as fragmented and lack continuity? I think that is a fair question that needs to be asked more often and I think most of us know the answer, or most of us will once the services that my office provides are directly affected or are put at odds with the Constitution, state law and judicial rules.
Tom Bexley is the Flagler Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller.