Letters to the Editor: May 9 – 15, 2013

May 9, 2013 10:36 AM6 comments

Questions ‘Court Security’ Issue at City Hall

Editor,

In an article in your May 2-9 edition regarding South Washington Street Development, you discussed plans to renovate or build a new City Hall. In that article, one of the justifications for these plans was that “court security is woefully lacking there.”

This statement is misleading and does not represent my experiences of over 31 years in that court. I also do not believe it represents the opinion of the current users of the Courtroom. If your statement is designed to indicate the difficulties of holding court (with some defendants in a custodial situation) in a building designed to serve as a City Hall, I agree.

I disagree if this statement in any way is directed at the men and women of the Falls Church Sheriff’s Office. Each week several paid Deputies, and many more volunteer Deputies, insure the safety of all who attend court in Council Chambers. They strive each week to overcome the physical limitations imposed upon them, by a building that is serving a role it was never designed for, while doing it in a courteous and professional manner.

In addition, a Security Committee consisting of a judge, members of the Sheriff’s Office, Police Department, the Court’s Clerk’s Office and other City agencies, regularly meet to discuss ways to improve the security of this building. To describe security as “woefully lacking” completely disregards their efforts to improve the security of the building while striking a balance with the public that uses it.

Thomas J. Kelley, Jr.

Via the Internet 

(Editor replies — No one has suggested in any of the conversations about this, that the work of the F.C. Sheriff’s Department has been anything but exemplary.)


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  • Vincent Seidita

    I seems to me that the editor who happens to be friends with the developers who will benefit from the construction of a new City Hall says that the security in the existing facility is “woefully lacking” at the same time the individuals securing the courts are doing exemplary work. I am not aware that there have been any instances where security in this facility was a problem. Did I miss a major story? I think that newspapers should attempt to print facts as news and save their opinions for the editorial page where they belong.

    • Gary LaPorta

      Vincent, who are the developers and what is their relationship to the editor? If this is true, it is scandalous. If not, then shame on you.

    • Vincent Seidita

      Gary,

      You must be new to the city. The editor and the local developers are the” so called” Falls Church A- Listers.

      Regards,
      Vinnie

      • Gary LaPorta

        Vinnie,

        Having been a citizen of Falls Church for 26 years now, I would say that I am not new to the city. I am also somewhat knowledgeable about the “so called Falls Church A-Listers” but fail to see the connection between the editor and the developers (who will probably not be the one you are thinking of) who would be constructing a new city hall, which BTW is not included in the current city CIP which can be found at http://www.fallschurchva.gov/cip if you care to take the look at the facts.

        • Vincent Seidita

          Gary,

          The point of my original post is that in a news story the editor identified a security problem with our exiting court facility as one of several reasons compelling the city to replace City Hall. Since that assertion does not appear to be driven by any facts it should be on the editorial page where readers expect opinions. I enjoy reading the News Press and rely on it to inform me of local news. However, the best Newspapers are careful to check their facts before publishing news stories and share their opinions on the editorial page.

          Regards,
          Vinnie

          • Gary LaPorta

            Agreed. The improvements to city hall were the results of a study done by PSA Dewberry in 2007. That study, plus additional reviews by a City Council/City Hall/Public Safety task-force all revealed security issues in City Hall. I expect the use of “woefully” was an editorial addition of the editor.

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