Deputy Dan is Packing It Up and Leaving for the Streets of T.O.
Dan McLaughlin is the kind of cop that you want to show up at your door after you call the 911-dispatcher.
Mr. McLaughlin, who works at the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, is the bailiff in Courtroom 23.
Tuesday, however, is his last day at the courthouse. Afterwards, he begins his new assignment, patrolling the streets of Thousand Oaks.
Mr. McLaughlin has been assigned to the courthouse for nearly five years, and has been a deputy for nearly a decade.
Mr. McLaughlin, who is the son of a U.S. Army Vietnam veteran, is courteous and friendly--firm, yet fair when he did his job as bailiff, which is to maintain order during court proceedings.
On his off hours, he puts in a lot of hours at the gym usually arriving there early in the morning. He one of the best candy dishes on his desk that jurors, lawyers and others dip into.
Mr. McLaughlin spent nearly 10 years in the Air Force where he was a crew chief for experimental aircraft. His courtroom desk and wall are filled with photographs and models of aircraft, and his knowledge and details of jets and experimental aircraft is impressive.
"I miss the smell of jet fuel in the morning," said McLaughlin and laughed.
But the northern California native said his dream has always been to be a police officer and is now looking forward to his new assignment.
"I'd like to think of it that I am no longer serving the county," he said. "It's more personal. I am serving my community."
The courthouse's loss is Thousand Oaks' gain.
Courthouse is in Stabilizing Mode After Austere Years
With a sluggish economy showing signs of improvements, including the state comptroller office saying that revenues are up 4 percent and home foreclosures down, it's still going to be a while, however, before the courthouse lines to file legal papers gets shorter, say court officials.
"I think right now we are just in a kind of stabilizing mode. We are not looking to increase staff at this point," said Robert Sherman, assistant executive director of the Ventura County Superior Court.
There were 20 layoffs at the end of June in addition to 16 voluntary separations and the elimination of 45 vacant positions.
That's slowed down, even more, the wheels of justice at the Hall of Justice in Ventura.
"Less (staff) people, longer waits, longer processing times, and that's the new normal of operating at this point," he said. "We might see some improvement for the future. "
The courthouse at Simi Valley will continue to remain open two days a week until the end of this fiscal year, said Sherman.
"We'll have to wait to see what happens next (fiscal ) year," said Sherman.
Sherman said the courthouse will be closed this Wednesday, the before Thanksgiving and for five days between Christmas and New Year's Day to save money.
Only emergency legal matters will be handled during those days, said Sherman.
The Ventura County courts have 29 judges with one judicial vacancy and a staff of 375 people, said Sherman.
More Than 100 Penny Pinching Ideas Surface to Save Money
Aside from laying off 20 courthouse workers, giving others voluntary separations and eliminating 40 vacant positions at the courthouse, judges and courthouse staff came up with dozens of other ways to save nickels and dimes during these last two years during this statewide financial chaos.
"We've got maybe 100, 150 things that have been done over the last couple of years," said Robert Sherman, assistant executive director of the Ventura County Superior Court.
Some of these things including changing the color of the paper used by staff at the courthouse, said Sherman. White paper is cheaper than colored paper; therefore, colored paper is not used, according to Sherman.
Also court reporters, whose job is to record the courtroom proceedings, will now have to ride with judicial assistants to go to the mental facility instead of taking separate vehicles and submitting two separate mileage reimbursement requests for the same trip, according to Sherman.
In addition, there is better coordination of the court calendars allowing one court reporter to cover multiple courts, he said.