The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
|Deputies want to utilize all of Goode Building and former county administration building|
Staff Photo by Charles Boothe:
Sheriff Bill Overton wants to use the former county administration building, which is located next door to the Virgil Goode Building, to help address space and security issues.
Monday, August 6, 2012
By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer
The Franklin County Sheriff's Office is seeking some major changes in space utilization that will help solve several issues, including security and the proper storage of evidence.
Captain Mark Torbert told the Franklin County Board of Supervisors at a retreat Wednesday that the Virgil H. Goode Building, where the sheriff's office is headquartered, is "unsecured 24 hours a day."
That creates a situation that allows arrestees and some inmates to interact with the public, he said.
"The office is open to the public, right in the middle of the sheriff's office (on the first floor)," he said. "There is no privacy."
"Public access to inmates and arrestees creates an opportunity for violence, as well as potential for contraband exchanges," according to a report from the sheriff's office.
The current situation also allows for arrestees, suspects and witnesses to interact with each other in the magistrate's office, the report said, creating a potential for confrontations.
Deputies are also at risk, because anyone can walk into the sheriff's office at any time and roam freely, Torbert said.There is always the potential for inmates to interact with the public with the current configuration of offices and services.
The report included a plan that would move the magistrate's office to the former county administration building, which is located next door, providing the needed security after some renovation work.
The plan would also secure most of the Goode Building, moving the offices of the sheriff and command staff to the second floor.
The first floor would have a vestibule and lobby for the public, providing access to the rest of the building only as needed.
Capt. Mark Sweeney told the board that the evidence room is now located in the old county library and security, lighting and space are all issues.
"The space is very limited," he said, adding that it's a difficult place to secure properly.
No sprinkler system is in place, he said, which is also a problem.
Sweeney said the remedy would be to move the evidence room to the first floor of a renovated Goode Building, where proper security could be provided and there is room for processing and storing evidence.
Danny Morris, who is the accreditation manager for the sheriff's office, said that inadequate security and lack of storage space are both problems with evidence handling that must be corrected before the office can be accredited.
"It (evidence storage) is so important that that's what they (accreditation assessors) want to see first," he said.
"This (accreditation) is such an important issue to me," said Sheriff Bill Overton, adding that some issues related to accreditation had previously been remedied. "We must meet accreditation standards."
Capt. Harry Clingenpeel, who leads the patrol deputies, said another problem is the lack of a place for deputies to meet with residents to make a report. A training room is needed as well.
"A training facility would be a great asset to us," he said, and it could also be used as an operation center and for planning.
The proposed plan includes a patrol work room and training room in the Goode Building.
Other space and storage issues were addressed as well, including a place for inmate video visitations (at the Western Virginia Regional Jail) and storage for supplies and ammunition.
Overton said the space allocation with the sheriff's office could be done in conjunction with security renovations at the courthouse, which are scheduled to be completed late next year.
"We know we can't do it all at once," he said, adding that the first phase would be to move the magistrate's office, booking and processing to a secure place in a renovated former county administration building.
Overton said estimated cost figures for the work have not yet been finalized, and supervisors asked him to bring those to the board within the next two months.