Sheriff to eliminate some transport of prisoners

SALINEVILLE — Village council members learned on Monday the county sheriff’s office has alerted them of a decision to stop transporting most prisoners arrested by other agencies from the jail to the municipal courts starting in January 2018.

Police Chief Matt Devlin shared with council the letter he received from the Sheriff Ray Stone. Currently, when Salineville and other towns in the county arrest someone, they are transported to the county jail by the arresting officer. Then the sheriff’s deputies handles transporting those prisoners to the two county municipal courts from the jail when those prisoners need to go to court for hearings.

The new policy would throw that job and the cost back on the cities, small communities and townships.

Stone said later Monday night he alerted the courts early last week and sent letters to the local police chiefs on Friday. Currently, most of the deputies working the daylight shift are engaged in transporting prisoners, but they also have other duties like protecting the public in more than 530 square miles of territory and serving warrants, protection orders and about 7,000 subpoenas annually.

The sheriff’s office is required, according to Stone, to transport those sentenced to the county jail and those involved in felony cases, as well as those going to probate or juvenile court. However, the misdemeanor cases heading to the municipal courts are not required.

Stone said looking back it appears Sheriff Richard Koffel was the one who agreed to transport all the prisoners. Koffel was sheriff from 1984 to 2000. In 2011, a contract was signed with the courts paying the sheriff’s office $5 per prisoner.

However, in 2018, Stone said all the department budgets in the county are being cut by 6 percent. Stone also is already short one officer and when another retires in October it does not appear he will be able to afford to replace him.

So Stone sent out letters to the local departments as a way to cut some of his costs next year, including the expense of transporting a lot of prisoners to the East Liverpool Municipal Court, which is much farther away than the county Municipal Court in Lisbon.

But police chiefs like Devlin in the smaller departments often have only one or two officers working during certain shifts. Sending someone back to Lisbon to pick up the prisoner for court appearances could be a hardship to their tight budgets as well.

Devlin told council he called Chief Deputy Clerk Shane Patrone about the letter and Patrone told him he was not the first chief to call. Patrone, who also serves as mayor in New Waterford, said he also has concerns about this and is looking at options. Although it is all still early in discussions, Devlin said one of the ideas being talked about by local chiefs is taking turns transporting prisoners for each other with each small town responsible for a period of time, like a month.

“We’ll get through it,” Devlin told council.