GF police butt heads with sheriff's department
BERRYVILLE -- What some have described as a festering feud between political rivals came to a head on Feb. 18 when one lawman said he was detained by another while booking a subject into jail.
It's a situation that has been stewing for some time the players say, each claiming the other is at fault.
At odds is the Carroll County Sheriff's Office and the Green Forest Police Department.
Overseeing those agencies are Sheriff Bob Grudek and Police Chief John Bailey, men who were political rivals during the last election.
The Feb. 18 incident that brought the situation to a head involved Green Forest Patrolman Allen Phillips and Carroll County Deputy Joel Hand -- both apparently acting according to policy and procedures set by their respective departments.
According to a memo prepared by Phillips, he was detained at the Carroll County Detention Center by Hand the early morning hours of Feb. 18 when he arrived with a suspect being booked on a DWI offense.
He claims Hand told him he couldn't leave until he filled out his booking paperwork properly although he claims he was following his supervisor's instructions.
Phillips said Hand and several other jailers blocked his exit, eventually saying he could leave if he took his prisoner with him, and then saying he could leave alone.
Chief Bailey said Phillips contacted him that morning and it was only after he was able to reach the CCSO captain by phone that Phillips was released.
Bailey claims jailers don't have the authority to question or hold his officers, they should contact him or his sergeant if there is a problem.
"It's not for his staff to discipline my staff," he said, noting that his officers had been "dreading going there" because of ongoing challenges.
Grudek says it's only the Green Forest officers who fail to fill out their paperwork properly -- and his deputies do have the authority to act as they did -- as outlined in a jail "directive" dated Jan. 18.
It's a directive Chief Bailey says he has never seen.
"There has been little or no communication," Bailey said. "This is the first I've heard of it. The only time we know of a change is when the officers get over there or when the sheriff fires off a letter."
The inter-office directive dated Jan. 18 addressed to jail staff and signed by the jail administrator says the following:
* An intake form shall be completed by the arresting officer of any agency before they leave this facility. A properly completed intake form is a requirement of the court at the offender's first appearance where only a uniform traffic citation has been issued and the offender has not posted bond.
* Requiring an officer to complete the form is a reasonable request, according to the county's legal counsel, and an officer shall not refuse a request from jail personnel for basic information regarding the prisoner before acceptance into the detention center.
The booking directive came on the heals of a court order handed down by District Judge Marianne McBeth on Jan. 5 that was later followed by a letter issued by Circuit Judge Kent Crow on Jan. 24.
McBeth, in her order, called for the immediate release of two prisoners who had not received their first judicial hearings a timely manner because their paperwork had not been completed.
She wrote, "The lack of paperwork is an increasingly chronic situation and this scenario has repeated itself dozens of times over the last year or two. More than half of the time I conduct hearings either at the jail or in my court, the paperwork is not complete."
Crow followed up with his letter addressed to the sheriff and the county's three police chiefs dated Jan. 24 that said he upheld McBeth's decision to release the two prisoners who had been detained for 48 hours or longer without a first judicial hearing.
Crow went on to say that while an officer can make an arrest and detain a citizen on a citation, such as one issued at a traffic stop, it is not "adequate for the purposes of detention beyond a reasonable time."
Officer Phillips, on Feb. 18, was booking a subject who was suspected of DWI after he was initially pulled over for failure to use his turn signal. Jailers claim Phillips did not provide sufficient supporting documentation to explain the reason for the DWI charge -- a claim Phillips disputed, saying he was following his supervisor's instructions.
According to Crow, the problem with insufficient paperwork surfaces when a subject detained on a misdemeanor at the jail comes before a judge at the jail for a bond hearing.
He said many misdemeanor violations come with a preset bond amount that a prisoner can post for immediate release.
"What happens when they can't post the bond -- within 48 hours they go before a judge," Crow said. That judge, he explained, relies on information provided by the arresting officer to determine if a bond is required. He said a ticket alone is not satisfactory.
Crow said subjects facing felony charges are usually arrested on warrants accompanied by probable cause affidavits. It's the paperwork on misdemeanor arrests that fall short.
"A traffic citation is a charging instrument -- not an affidavit or statement of probable cause," he said. "The intake form is to be completed by the officer regarding probable cause. It gives the judge something to look at."
Crow said he and the other judges work with the detention center to conduct first appearance hearings at the jail, often going there nights and weekends to make sure prisoners see a judge within 48 hours.
What McBeth encountered, he said, was a call at the 11th hour, and when she arrived the paperwork for the two prisoners had not been completed. "She was very unhappy," he said.
"We had to come down hard on the requirement for paperwork. It's a brief statement for probable cause to be filled in by the officer. It's policy and procedures to be followed. The sheriff is able to establish procedure and he can refuse to take a prisoner if policy isn't followed."
Grudek said his jailers are responsible for providing the paperwork that the judges require when conducting hearings at the jail.
"Jailers, with the paperwork, stand in the for the arresting deputies," he explained. "We are the ones doing the hearings."
Those hearings at the jail might become a thing of the past if differences aren't resolved.
In a letter dated Feb. 24 addressed to Grudek and the three police chiefs written by Crow in response to the recent incident, Crow threatened to halt all jail hearings.
He said, "If there are any future issues concerning the detention of prisoners, compliance with the Detention Facility procedures or preparation of statements or affidavits of probable cause, my solution will be to conduct all first judicial appearances in court with the arresting officer's presence required for the purpose of presenting testimony, under oath, for the arrest of a prisoner."
He went on to clarify his request for proper paperwork and to recognize the sheriff's responsibility for the operation of the jail, saying "his policy and procedures must be followed as long as they do not violate any state of federal law."
Crow concluded by saying "if you believe it is necessary, I will chair a meeting of all the county law enforcement agencies and judges to resolve any additional issues."
That is the same step Green Forest Mayor Charlie Reece said he suggested when looking into the incident before he was quickly rebuked by Grudek who called the meeting an inquisition.
"My personal opinion," Reece said, "is there is a little bit of bad blood and testosterone that needs to stop. I am in support of Judge Crow's suggestion that we meet with the judges involved -- like the meeting I had suggested. After my talk with the sheriff, I'm more confused than before. Personally, I feel there are grains of truth on both sides. I really, in my heart, believe there are misunderstandings that need to be resolved. I don't have a dog in this fight, other than being accused of setting up an inquisition."
Bailey said he's also in favor of such a meeting, and now that he's armed with the booking "directive" information, he will be instructing his officers to include probable cause on each charge when they book their prisoners. He said he supports what the judges are requesting and hopes for "better communication" with the sheriff in the future.
Grudek summed up his feelings by saying, "I regret what happened but it may be for the best -- to have this aired."