County reverses itself on office safety measure

Recently, given partial information about the Assessor’s Office request for bulletproof glass, Martin County commissioners voted (3-2) to deny the expense, not seeing the purported security concerns. It was difficult to disagree with them.

We still tend to believe that the original decision by commissioners was correct. However, more information emerged this week, with Assessor Dan Whitman appearing before the board himself. Whitman noted the location of his office is right in the middle of activity related to court visits by criminal defendants, as well as next to the probation department. A recent security incident right outside his office helped spark Whitman’s interest in improved safety for his staff. He says he doesn’t want a glass window at all if it is not bulletproof.

Two commissioners remained skeptical, sensing an overreaction. But three others were convinced by Whitman and have approved his request. As noted, we, like those in the minority, are skeptical.

However, we do agree with Commissioner Dan Schmidtke, one of those in the majority, that a reassessment of the location of the Assessor’s Office is needed. We are struck by the notion of putting people who work in a technical field right in the lap of the criminal court system. Schmidtke says the issue will be forwarded to the county’s building committee to be evaluated, before any bulletproof glass is installed in the Assessor’s Office. This is definitely the diligent thing to do.