A message from the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office.
BOSTON – A bill that would allow police departments in Middlesex County to place pre-arraignment detainees in a regional lockup facility operated by the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office was reported out favorably by the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security last week. The bill was filed by State Senator Ken Donnelly (D – Arlington) and has been supported by Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian and the Middlesex County Chiefs of Police Association.
The bill, An Act establishing regional lockup facilities, now moves to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means for review.
“I would like to thank Senator Donnelly, our law enforcement colleagues who advocated for this legislation, and the committee for advancing it to the crucial next stage,” Sheriff Koutoujian said. “We believe a regional lockup facility would bring significant benefit to the county because it will allow corrections officers – specifically trained to work in a jail setting – to ensure the custody of detainees.”
The bill would allow any sheriff in the Commonwealth to establish a regional lockup facility for their county. Local police departments could then transfer responsibility for the care and maintenance of detainees to the sheriff from the time of arrest, rather than the time of arraignment.
“This is an important piece of legislation for my community and communities across the Commonwealth,” said Sen. Donnelly. “This bill will also provide better and more efficient access to important services for those in our communities who may need them.”
“The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office is specially-equipped to house and care for inmates safely and with dignity, and it makes sense that they take custody, freeing up our officers to spend more time in the community instead of inside the station, watching a prisoner,” Bedford Police Chief Robert Bongiorno said. “The Sheriff has the extensive training to handle the care of those arrested in the county.”
“Middlesex Regional Lockup is a win-win for everyone in the community. This will build trust and improve safety while freeing up municipal police resources, which are often stretched,” said Arlington Police Chief Fred Ryan. “I very much appreciate the leadership shown by Senator Donnelly and Sheriff Koutoujian on this important public safety issue.”
Because many detainees that are arrested over the weekend cannot be arraigned until the next business day, local police departments struggle over weekends and holidays to properly house these individuals. The delays create a strain on the departments’ budgets and officers’ time, according to Chief Bongiorno.