Chief says court closure will “drastically” impact Southborough police

Last month the state released a plan to close Westborough District Court. It’s a plan Southborough Police Chief Jane Moran says will “drastically change” the way her department operates.

The state first threatened to close the court last summer, but then backed away from the proposal. This time Moran said the closure is likely to happen, despite protests from area chiefs.

“Right now it looks like we will have to move all operations to Worcester,” Moran told Selectmen at a meeting last night.

Moran said if Southborough’s cases move to Worcester, they’ll be competing to schedule trials with bigger towns who bring in more prisoners. With the court in Westborough, a Southborough police office can often wrap up any business in a matter of hours, but Moran said that will likely change.

“When we send the court officer to Worcester, he will likely be gone all day,” Moran said.

Moran said she is talking to other area police chiefs about how they might be able to consolidate the workload. “Other police chiefs are in a similar quandary,” she said.

In addition to Southborough, Westborough District Court services Grafton, Northborough, Shrewsbury, and Westborough.

Consolidating work isn’t the only option available to the town. Town Administrator Jean Kitchen said Southborough can also request to be placed in a different court district, like those served by Framingham or Marlborough District Court. The request to move districts would have to be approved by Town Meeting before it could be submitted to the state.

Moran said there may be complications because Framingham and Marlborough are in a different county than Southborough, but agreed to look into the option.

“Redistricting is a viable possibility,” Selectman John Rooney said. “If everyone goes to Worcester, it’s going to take countless manhours.”

Moran said much about the court closure – including when it might happen – is still unknown.

“We have no way of knowing exactly what’s going to happen,” she said. “But we know it’s not going to be pleasant.”

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