That is a really broad question. Without knowing more about how their unit operates and is funded, it is hard to say. There would be questions about how they are trained. Where does their funding come from? Who's warrants do they serve? Do they work at the request of the local PD? or just work on their own? It's hard to say what I would think about this with a lot more information. If you know anything else, put it on here, so we can discuss.
The warrant apprehension unit is funded by the sheriff's office and the members of that unit have all gone through a full-time police academy.
They work on their own serving criminal warrants that come from courts inside Middlesex County.
If I am correct I think that it would be Deputy Sheriffs that would be making those arrests. They are full time academy trained and commanded by law to arrest a suspect whom the courts have issued a lawful arrest warrant. I think the Co's work inside of the prisons if I'm Correct.
And I'm sure there are areas in every agency that the funding could be redirected to other areas across the commonwealth??????
You guys all have great points. I had a lot of time to think about staffing this week, when I sat by myself all week on a "two officers required policy" hospital detail. There are definatley staffing problems within most correctional facilities in this state. I had an opportunity to work with guys from the State, Norfolk, Suffolk and Hampden this week, and the same issues all came up: No time off and unsafe staffing levels. To make things worse, administrators are doing the wrong thing by cutting costs by reducing staffing in plain conflict with departmental policy. Someone is going to get hurt.
With that said, I do not fault any of the officers who serve on this Middlesex team, because if given the opportunity to do something interesting like that, I might take the chance myself. But I can tell you that that money could be better spend elsewhere. Nearly all of the funding for Sheriff's departments in this state comes from the state (notice nearly all, not all). If departments have enough fat in their budget to fund special units, then their budgets should be re-dispersed to help other departments who are struggling. Remember, this is state money now, no longer county money.
If the money from this comes from specialized grants, then the water becomes a bit murky. The jury is still out on my end, on whether Sheriff's departments should be receiving and using these grants. I haven't heard all the facts yet. However, if this money is coming out of the general operating fund, then maybe we need to find a Middlesex officer and ask him if he feels that staffing levels are safe within his facility? if he is getting his time off? or is it being denied?
I don't think anybody is in a situation in this state right now where they need to be expanding. I think someday it is possible that it will be ok for Sheriff's departments to expand into law enforcement, but only when corrections, our primary function, is being done correctly.
I just wanted to point out something interesting about what you said. I am a Deputy Sheriff, but I only went to the Reserve Academy, and work full-time within the jail. There are always exceptions to everything. In our department, a good portion of the guys who work inside are Deputy Sheriffs. There are very few (probably less than 20), who have been through a full time academy.
Pearl seems like an objective man that is well grounded. must be tough to be so diplomatic when so many take swipes at his profession. i know that plymouth county also has a warrant team. my understanding is that small
towns that lack the staff request their help in clearing up backlogs of warrants. i know that everytime they enter my community to serve a warrant from another town, they call us and ask for a local police officer to assist them. they seem like good guys. obviously, the only concern is that politically connected hacks who got appointed to the warrant team, due to a contribution to the sheriff's capaign, are not out there. we respect all who earn the job by merit, but not those who worked on the sheriff's campaign to sneak in. if they are appointed to the sheriff's department by being a suck up - it should be mandatory that they serve only as a c. o for a year. unfortunately some just get cushy positions from the start before the c o's even are considered for them.
There is alot of intelligence inside the walls of those correctional institutions. If the Sheriffs can use all their resources to form Warrant Teams to get these people off the streets, then I don't see a problem with it, as long as the deputys are properly trained. There are many police agencies in the State of Massachusetts that do not have the man power to track down warrants and from what I saw of the Sheriffs Teams, they worked well with the different agencies tracking down these wanted people.
I have a question, why are the people working as corrections officers, deputy sheriffs?? I thought deputy sheriffs worked on the road and corrections officers inside the jails or are all employees of the Sheriff considered deputy sheriffs and with that do they all have arrest powers? I'm curious about how your county is structured.
To answer your question, people who mainly work inside the facility are sworn as Deputy Sheriff's for a few reasons. The main reason for most is so that they can work details outside of work. Others are sworn because they work in law enforcement type positions within the facility, for example outside perimeter security, security investigations, transportation, outside hospital runs. Because of "just in case" purposes, guys who work outside jobs are generally (not always) Deputy Sheriff's as well. The main reason however, is detail work. Everyone who is sworn by the department as a Deputy Sheriff, has full arrest authority as given by Massachusetts statute and case law. Not all employees are considered Deputy Sheriffs. You can generally tell the difference by the badges we wear. Deputies will wear the star, while corrections officers wear the shield type badge.
In general, I can understand why these warrant teams are being formed. There are a lot of towns who do not have the manpower to serve all of their warrants, and need someone to come in and do it. I'm just not sure if the Sheriff's Departments are the right group to be doing it. Again, staffing levels are unsafe, in our main responsibility: the jails and houses of correction. Money given to the department should be spent to provide safety for our officers. If there is anything left over after that, then maybe it would be ok to start new projects such as these teams. However, I think you will be hard pressed to find a department in this state that has enough staffing and equipment to run their facility safely and efficiently. I'm concerned that some of these teams are being formed out of political grandstanding and headline grabbing by the Sheriff's, and in the end they are putting their staff in danger.
Thanks for the clarification and that makes sense. As far as the warrant team, you would know better than anyone if it was beneficial to your county for the sheriff to have such a team.
As far as the state allocating money to the sheriff opposed to another agency, I still believe that the intel inside the jails are usually untapped resources and should be explored before handing money out to other agencies. Don't sell SO's short when it comes to certain areas of law enforcement.
I'm not sure if you guys are talking about the same sort of intellegence. I think PBC is referring to intellegent staff members, and I think MT1 is referring to the intellegence information type intellegence. I could be wrong though.
MT1 is right about intellegence though. Send it where it belongs. The jail is a good source of intellegence, especially on gangs and drugs. This is where the bad guys all get together and talk shop. We pass all our stuff on to our Security Investigations guys. They liason with either our law enforcement end (part of a federal task force) or with outside agencies as necessary.
I would actually like to see more criminal prosecutions within the facility. For some reason or another, our facility shys away from charging inmate except in major incidents. I have requested charges be brought through a disciplinary report in a few situations, and have been declined. I've looked at more proactive departments, such as New York City Department of Correction, which re-arrests and books it's inmates frequently, and it has had a strong affect on the level of violence and drugs in it's facilities.
Depends on the state: I'll address NY as that's where I worked previous to MA. Both the CO's and road deputy's were "deputy sheriffs". There was a different standard of training, and quilification for hiring, of each. The CO's were referred to(derogatorily)as "turnkeys", while the road deputies were what you might term "county police." So even in the sheriff's department there was a "class system", with road deps at the top of the food chain, then the CO's, then the dispatchers(the county provided the regional dispatch there, similar to the state police system here). Some counties did not have an adequate tax base to mount a road patrol: the primary function of the sheriff was to run the jail: they had no choice as to whether they would staff a jail or mount a road patrol.
Interesting side note: the sheriff was the "chief" law enforcement officer of the county...not the DA!
As far as MA goes, and with all due respect to the excellent PearlOnyx, there is no need for a road service from the sheriff here. The staties already provide those services, unlike NY where the roles are reversed!
There has been some comments about funding, so I'll add another into the mix......
With warrent service fees and the associated fines with the original offense the W/A unit could "at least on paper" show as a revenue generating operation. Which I would speculate could be a significant factor in why it was formed and operating. A pretty good political statement for a sheriff to be able to make that thanks to his efforts $$$$ were put into the general fund that otherwise would have gone uncollected.
You have a good point about warrant service fees. That's actually one of my Sherriff's claims to fame. When he was appointed (after the previous sheriff was convicted), he took the Civil Process Office away from private control (as it still is in many departments), and made it a unit of the Sheriff's Department, staffed by state employees, and returning it's revenue to the department and the state. I wasn't around before this happened, so I really can't comment, but supposedly that alone rooted out a bit of corruption, and brought revenue to the state. I believe it's on his campaign website as an accomplishment while in office.
RE: PROSECUTION OF INMATE CRIMES INSIDE A CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION (VIA D-REPORT), MGL 127 38C MANDATES THAT IF THE SUPT. FINDS A FELONY HAS BEEN COMMITTED INSIDE, HE MUST FORWARD IT TO THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY. ONCE THE FELONY'S BEEN COMMITTED, IT'S UP TO THE DA TO DECIDE TO GO FORWARD, NOT THE ADMIN.
2596, your citation is correct. However, the intent of the statute is to ensure that all felonies are reported to the district attorney, not that the superintendent seek permission from the district attorney.
Any citizen (or inmate) may seek a criminal complaint on their own if they so desire.
My department averages approximately two to three per week. We've never asked anyone's permission.
I have heard of departments that treat it like any crime on the street. They arrest and book the suspect (inmate), then bring him to court for arraignment.
I am aware of the statute that you cite. All I can tell you, is that I've sumbmitted reports charging disciplinary offense #32 Violation of any Law of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to wit (insert charge here), and never received any sort of response or had to testify in any matter, including assaults, threats to commit arson, disturbing a correctional facility etc.. Our Security Investigations division receives these reports, and liason's with the Superintendant and District Attorney's Office. If I really wanted to be a pain in the arse, I could go swear out a complaint myself, and by pass the whole process. There are a lot of departments out there which are very active in seeking charges against inmates. Ours does not seem to be one of them.