It is a sad state of affairs when front-line Pennington County employees are concerned about safety at the workplace. Yet, apparently that is the case at the county’s administration building on Kansas City Street.
The Treasurer’s Office, the Auditor’s Office, the Register of Deeds, the Equalization Department and other offices where emotions can run high are in the building that has a sheriff's deputy stationed near the front desk to respond quickly to calls for service and send a message to those with an attitude.
That sense of security, however, was threatened by budget cuts and county employees responded by pleading with the County Commission to restore the funding.
Their concerns and the abusive behavior of some local residents came to light after the commission approved cutting the $72,869 from Sheriff Thom’s 2018 budget, which would have removed security beginning Jan. 1 from the building where property taxes and vehicle license fees and excise taxes are paid and other transactions occur daily.
According to employees who made arguments to the County Commission, they have been sworn at, received obscene gestures and even witnessed fights among people standing in line.
Their only line of defense has been a sheriff's deputy whose presence greets all who enter the building. "They get upset with us and get angry," said Register of Deeds Donna Mayer. "All we have to do is look at the officer that's over there at the desk."
What is happening to civility here? Why does anyone believe it is OK to threaten county employees who are just doing their jobs? And people getting in fights while standing in line? That’s not even acceptable in our schools where students are learning to be adults.
At the same time, the lack of decency exhibited at the county administration building seems to be a symptom of what is happening across the country.
The political parties, their loyal partisans and special interest groups skirmish daily in a war of words that stokes emotions and lowers the bar. President Trump fuels the fire with tweets that criticize people across the spectrum and personally insults his many targets. On Tuesday, he kicked off the new year by launching 17 tweets, including his already infamous my nuclear button is bigger than your button barb aimed at North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, a dictator who threatens this country with nuclear war. Social media is frequently anything but social having become a haven for angry Americans.
Whether it is national discord or more personal reasons that sow discontent here, it can't be tolerated at the county administration building. The County Commission listened to its employees and restored the security funding, which needed to be done for the employees and those who conduct business there.