FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KFTA) — Washington County’s sheriff announced a decision to limit the number of people taken to the county jail to deal with overcrowding.
The new policy will require officers to be notified when the number of detainees waiting to be booked reaches 30. At that point, no more will be accepted in the intake area. Officers will have a 30-minute window so they can still take people in if they’re in the middle of making an arrest.
Sgt. Tony Murphy is with the Fayetteville Police Dept., and he said officers already look for alternatives to making an arrest in many cases. With misdemeanor crimes, they’re in that mindset. He said officers are concerned with patrolling more-serious charges once they get that notification.
“If something like this occurs where the jail isn’t taking prisoners, and we have a felony case where that person is stealing things, it could cause us to find alternatives to arrests for felony cases,” Murphy said.
Sheriff Tim Helder said he wants to cut down on what he calls “nuisance criminals”—people who could just as well receive a citation rather than arrest. He said he is planning on listening to officers’ concerns in a meeting with captains Tuesday.
“If Fayetteville, or a Farmington, or a West Fork or somebody has a felony arrest, we’re certainly gonna take them,” Helder said. “We’re gonna make room. We’re gonna have a little bit of leeway.”
Helder reiterated that people who’ve picked up charges like DUI or drug-related charges will still get the same trip to jail regardless of how many people are in intake.