Judge says security not adequate in Providence County courts

By: Rebecca Turco

With contributions by the Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Superior Court Presiding Justice Alice B. Gibney says security remains inadequate in Providence County courthouses and will affect the scheduling of civil trials and other court proceedings.

Gibney on Monday called the sheriffs’ department "woefully understaffed" and said until the situation is rectified, "all dates certain, trials or hearings should be considered in limbo and not etched in stone."

Gibney says she’s also rescinding the Superior Court’s open invitation to student field trips.

State Police Captain Tim Sanzi is the executive office of the Department of Public Safety. He manages the sheriffs’ department. "I can see how that is a frustrating piece for everyone involved in this process, but unfortunately we have to do the best with what we have," he explained.

Sanzi says the sheriffs’ department is technically at full-staff, but that he would love to add more officers in the future to better handle the influx in court cases, if the state budget allows for it.

Gibney says essential court calendars will continue to operate daily, but on a staggered schedule to ensure adequate security.

She says she does not anticipate the shortage will affect criminal matters.

The Superior Courts have been operating on a reduced schedule since June, when the sheriffs’ shortage was first announced.

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