July 13, 2016 Edition

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Sheriff to review intake policy,
new jail will increase safety

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

Sheriff Jeff Yates announced the intake policy at the county jail is under review. A new procedure is being developed that will help determine which inmates are the county's responsibility and which are the arresting agency's responsibility when it comes to liability and medical treatment.

To prevent confusion on which agency made the arrest, what the charges are and what to do if medical treatment is required, the policy being utilized currently requires the arresting officer to fill out paperwork before the jail will accept the inmate. The charges would have to be verified with Yates, Chief Deputy Tony Waldrupe or Jail Administrator Debbie Burleson before intake could be completed.

"I don't want to be liable, and I don't want anybody to get hurt in my jail," Yates said.

Yates said all officers from any agency need permission, but there have been issues with Walnut Ridge Police Department officers not following the procedure. This led to a sign being hung at the sheriff's office while Yates and Waldrupe were away last week for a conference.

The sign singled out WRPD officers as needing permission before bringing in a new inmate. In hindsight, Yates said perhaps he shouldn't have singled out Walnut Ridge.

Walnut Ridge Police Chief Chris Kirksey had expressed frustration about the sign and concerns about safety for his officers due to having to wait on approval before taking the inmate in but said everything has been resolved.

Yates added that the new jail will be equipped with a secure intake to be utilized while the paperwork is approved. It will have an enclosed loading and unloading garage, holding cells and secure passage straight to the cellblock.

With bids for construction on the new jail being accepted through July 27, construction is not far from beginning on the new voter-approved jail. A pre-bid meeting will be held at the courthouse on July 20 at 11 a.m. All potential bidders are encouraged to attend. A list of available packages for bid can be found on page 14A.

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