CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County's Juvenile Court will now allow a detention officer to park for free inside a secure garage at the courthouse after he said he received death threats from a teen free on bond.
The decision came late Thursday afternoon, hours after 5 On Your Side Investigators began questioning why the court asked the officer to pay to park in the secure lot, which was offered as protection by court administrators.
In a statement to the sheriff's office last week, the officer said the teen, who according to court records cut off his GPS monitoring device, showed up outside the detention center at the end of the officer's shift.
The officer wrote the teen "has made several death threats on my life and I feel tonight his intentions were to kill."
In response, a court administrator told the union representing the officer that he would be allowed to park in a secure garage at the courthouse.
But earlier this week, the union said the officer was told he would have to pay to park in the garage.
"I didn't know you could put a price on safety, but apparently juvenile court has found a way to do that," said Colin Sikon, a field representative for Local 860, the union representing the county's detention officers.
Sikon said the officer fears for his life.
5 On Your Side Investigators asked a spokeswoman for the court about the decision to charge the officer to park.
Late Thursday, she issued a statement that said in part:
We are in the process of waiving the fees through Public Works, due to this space being provided to the employee in question as a safety measure.
The safety and security of all Court and Detention Center employees are of the utmost importance. The Court takes every precaution and measure to protect all those that enter our doors, employees, youth, and the citizens of Cuyahoga County, alike.
The union said it was relieved about the court's change of course, but wondered why it had to come to this.
"Live up your responsibility, keep your members safe," Sikon said. "Don't hang it in front of their face like a carrot that they have to buy."
The teen's case was bound over to adult court where he faces charges including aggravated robbery.
Records show a warrant has been issued for his arrest for cutting off his GPS monitor.