The Odessa Record -

By Drew Lawson
The Times 

Proposed jail costs shock Reardan

Town, county sheriff negotiating contract renewal

 

Last updated 7/29/2020 at 12:33pm



REARDAN – Under a proposed contract change, the Town of Reardan may end up paying substantially higher jail fees to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, a cost that Reardan Police Chief Andy Manke said isn’t feasible for the town of 623.

While the town has its own police force, it contracts with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office for jail and dispatch services. The contract between the town and the county is currently under negotiation and set to renew in January.

Under the new contract terms, the Town of Reardan would pay $63 per day to the Lincoln County Jail to house an inmate convicted of a misdemeanor offense. For the past several decades, the police department has been paying the bill for a maximum of 48 hours of incarceration, at $100 per 24 hours.

“Anything after 48 hours, the county has been footing the bill,” Manke said. “The most we’ve had to pay is 200 bucks.”

However, the new contract terms would have the Town of Reardan paying for more of the jail stays for misdemeanor offenders picked up by the Reardan PD.

Manke said a “rude awakening” came last month when a habitual DUI offender was arrested in Reardan and sentenced to 30 days in jail. Under the new proposed contract, the town would pay the county a maximum of $1,890.

“I did some more research to see if that 63 dollar (fee) would be equitable for the town of Reardan to budget,” Manke said.

Manke pulled the Washington State Patrol misdemeanor filings in Reardan and elsewhere in Lincoln County. He found that Reardan has made 100 misdemeanor filings since January 1.

“Every one of those filings has the potential for incarceration,” Manke said. “I’m not saying all of them will; a lot of them are pled out to monetary fines or probation. But out of 100 fines, there is the potential for there to be a lot of jail time associated with those numbers. And we’re only halfway through the year.”

Manke also found that Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputies have only filed 140 misdemeanors in the whole county.

“So we’re thinking we’re potentially going to bear the brunt of almost 50 percent of the jail costs associated with offenders in the entire county,’” Manke said. “That’s something we can’t afford. That will bankrupt us.”

He added that if there were 30 people sentenced to 30 days in jail and Reardan had to foot that bill, the fees would be larger than the entire department’s budget.

“If it stays the way it is, unfortunately we’re going to have to do some things that we would not want to do, like not arrest people that need to be arrested, or not charge people with misdemeanors that we normally would, because we can’t pay for it,” Manke said.

Reardan Police Officer Chris Stein presented these figures to the Reardan Town Council at its July 16 meeting, while Manke shared the figures with Lincoln County commissioner Rob Coffman.

Coffman agreed to go to the sheriff, jail superintendent and others involved at the county level to try and find an agreement more equitable for Reardan and Lincoln County.

Manke noted that any felony arrests that take place in Reardan are paid for by the county. Any sentences to offenders greater than 364 days go to the state penitentiary.

The high number of misdemeanor filings in Reardan could partially be attributed to the fact that Reardan is a “drag net” for people arriving in Lincoln County from Spokane County to the east and Stevens County to the north.

“Just based on the geographical dynamic of our location Lincoln County, we are the funnel for everybody entering our county and leaving our county,” Manke said. “We’re not doing anything different than any other agency…it’s just that (criminal activity) is coming to us. We don’t have to go out and look for them.”

Through July 21, Reardan police had issued 95 criminal traffic and five criminal non-traffic tickets along with 336 traffic infractions and one non-traffic infraction.

Dispatch contract

In addition to increases in jail fees, the dispatch fee portion of the proposed sheriff’s contract would nearly double for the Reardan Police Department, from a fee of roughly $7,500 in 2020 to $14,100 according to Manke.

Manke said the $14,100 is still a great deal for Reardan despite the doubled rate, because other police departments in comparable situations pay much more on an annual basis. There will be a two percent increase per year from when the new contract is enacted, which Manke said is equitable and fair for the department.

 

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