Commissioners hear new idea for utilizing the holding facility

By Taylor Risse

The Bennett County Board of Commissioners held a long meeting on Wednesday, December 4, with a lot of interesting topics discussed.

Martin City Police Chief Brandon Petersen addressed the commissioners in regards to the inmate transportation policy change that has recently went into effect. 

In the past, the Bennett County Sheriff’s Department, as a courtesy to other law enforcement agencies, has absorbed the cost of transport from Mission to Winner jail. Sheriff Paul Williams recently sent out a letter stating, “due to budget constraints Bennett County can no longer afford this courtesy.” In the letter, Williams presented the cost of transporting inmates from Mission to Winner jail: “1 inmate = $58; 2 inmates = $78; 3 inmates = $98; and 4 inmates = $118.”

Chief Petersen told the board he was at the meeting to obtain more information about the policy change that he could take back to City Council. Due to the new policy, the city would potentially have to raise city taxes so the budget could be increased by approximately $15,000 - $20,000 to help cover the costs of transporting from Mission to Winner.

Commissioner Rolf Kraft brought up the Attorney General’s opinion that states, “The responsibility for the transportation or delivering an arrestee to the contractual jail facility for the county wherein the arrest occurred lies with the arresting officer.”

Kraft suggested the law board, which consists of Commissioner Kraft and Wayne Bond, having a meeting with Sheriff Williams and Chief Petersen to figure something out. 

Commissioner Judd Schomp asked, “Is there an outbreak of crime going on? Why are things changing? The county has normally covered this cost, correct?” 

Petersen answered, yes. 

Chief Petersen gave numbers from last month to help put the cost into perspective. Petersen stated that the City Police Department averages 21 arrests a month that are state offenses. Petersen told the board, “Last month we made 16 transports.” Petersen approximated, if there was one inmate per transport, it cost the county $928 in transport fees. 

See December 11, 2019 Issue for Full Article

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