BOSTON – Middlesex County law enforcement officials today voiced support for legislation allowing county sheriffs to establish regional lockup facilities.
The bill, S.1300 An Act relative to regional lockup facilities, is currently before the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. It would allow any sheriff in the Commonwealth to establish a regional pre-arraignment lockup facility for their county. The legislation is supported by the Middlesex County Chiefs of Police Association.
“We are constantly evaluating how we can better support our local law enforcement colleagues,” said Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian. “Regional lockup is one commonsense way. Our corrections officers are specially trained to work in jail settings to ensure the care and custody of detainees. Additionally, we have the dedicated medical staff necessary to evaluate and care for individuals with substance use and behavioral health issues. These are resources not readily available in municipal lockups.”
Currently, all pre-arraignment arrestees in Middlesex County are held in local municipal jails. In order for police departments to monitor and protect these individuals, they are required to use limited staff resources that could otherwise be assigned to patrol functions.
“Establishing a regional lock up facility would allow for a more effective deployment of our manpower to more proactive police functions. It would also increase police presence within the community,” said Woburn Police Chief Robert Ferullo. “A regional lockup facility would be better equipped to detain prisoners in an environment that is designed specifically for the purpose of care and custody of prisoners by corrections professionals that are experts in their field.”
“I believe having this regional lock-up through the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office who are better equipped to take care and custody of prisoners is a win-win for everyone, especially the person who is being taken into custody,” said Shirley Police Chief Samuel Santiago. “The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office Regional Lock-Up can provide service that we can’t provide while in a municipal cell room. This will assist smaller police departments with limited resources and budgets to focus on their community versus watching a prisoner all weekend and forcing an officer in to perform prisoner watch duties which causes a strain on resources and personnel.”
Last session, the bill received a favorable report out of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.