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Graduating sheriffs ride into West Kootenay courts

Ministry of Justice adds two new sheriffs to roster

There’s a new sheriff in town.

Make that two new sheriffs, working at the Rossland Provincial Courthouse and circuit courts throughout the West Kootenay.

Based in Nelson at the central Sheriff Services, the two new sheriffs will join a complement of six sheriffs — including one inspector — that serves the entire West Kootenay area’s courthouses such as Rossland and Castlegar.

The need was there, said a Ministry of Justice official, even though the caseload has not specifically increased in the last few years in the Rossland court.

“The number of sheriffs required at a courthouse varies each day and is based on a number of factors, including but not limited to the number and types of cases being heard and whether there are any in-custody accused,” said the official. “But we continually assess needs for court administration and support staff.”

Overall, British Columbia’s justice system has been strengthened with the addition of 23 new deputy sheriffs who began working in courtrooms throughout the province last week.

The sheriffs received their badges at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) in New Westminster two weeks ago following intensive training, and now they will help ensure safe and efficient courts.

The new graduates bring to 57 the number of new sheriffs to have joined the justice system over the past five months.

The cost for training each sheriff recruit is approximately $25,000 and is part of the more than $1 billion the province spends annually on B.C.’s public safety and justice system.

Their main responsibilities include: escorting prisoners between court, correctional centres and police lock-up facilities; courthouse and courtroom security, including the management of courthouse lock-up facilities; and jury management.

Across the province 17 new sheriff recruits have been deployed to courthouses throughout the Lower Mainland, including in Vancouver, Richmond, North Vancouver, New Westminster, Surrey, Port Coquitlam, Abbotsford and Chilliwack.

One new deputy sheriff has started in the city of Cranbrook and will also assist with circuit courts throughout the East Kootenays, two in Prince George and another in Fort St. John.

There are more than 500 sheriffs working in 45 courthouses and 44 circuit courts in communities throughout B.C. The Justice Institute of B.C. has trained and deployed 57 new sheriffs in the past five months alone.