State court administrators say they will meet with members of a union representing New York City-area Supreme Court officers to discuss concerns about inadequate security in some courtrooms.
The meeting will be set up at the behest of Patrick Cullen, head of the 1,400-member New York Supreme Court Officers Association, who complained of a March 12 incident in Manhattan Supreme Court, Civil Term at 80 Centre St., in which a clerk declined to open a courtroom for that day’s 90-case calendar before Justice Anil Singh because no court officers were available to provide security. Cullen said the courtroom, one of three to operate that day without court officers, was ordered to open by Justice Sherry Klein Heitler, the administrative judge for the Supreme Court, Civil Term.
“This is not an isolated incident,” Cullen said in a letter to Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti. “These types of problems arise every week and are growing.”
Cullen said the state is at risk of a “catastrophic” incident unless administrators provide more court officers.
Court spokesman David Bookstaver declined to comment, saying he would not discuss court officer staffing nor other security-related issues.
“We agree with Mr. Cullen that the safety of everyone inside the courthouse is a tremendous concern,” Bookstaver said Monday. “We will be speaking with Mr. Cullen in the very near future to iron out any issues that we can.”
Cullen’s union represents officers in 35 court buildings in the five boroughs of New York City and in the state’s Ninth Judicial District in suburban counties north of New York City. In 2012, court officers represented by the union shot and killed a disturbed man who shot his way into the lobby of Middletown City Court in Orange County.