About Me

My photo
Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Central Booking Change Returns Cops to Patrol

L to R: Corrections Director Dan Keen; Palmer Police Chief Larry Palmer;
Magisterial District judge Jim Narlesky; and Magisterial District Judge Richard Yetter.
When a person is arrested and charged with a serious offense, he is taken to a central booking station, located next to the jail. Arresting officers have been required to wait as the accused is processed, which usually takes between two and four hours. With 2,000* bookings per year, this is roughly 4,000-8,000 man hours. This is an incredible drain on smaller departments like Bangor, and sometimes means there is no one to patrol the streets. As Bangor's Mayor, this is a problem that bothered John Brown, who noticed that a police officer who made an arrest would be tied up at the booking center for most of his shift. As County Executive, it's a problem he's been able to fix, thanks to a group of county and local officials who worked together to streamline the process.

At a January 13 news conference attended by enough police brass to form a marching band, Brown announced changes to the central booking system that will get police officers back on the street within 30 minutes. Essentially, jail staff will assume responsibility for inmates at an earlier stage. According to Corrections Director Dan Keen, this is a revenue neutral change that will cause no increase in jail manpower or staff.

The nuts and bolts of this new approach were screwed together by Keen, Sheriff David Dalrymple, Easton Police Chief carl Scalzo and Palmer Police Chief Larry Palmer.

Though Palmer supervises one of Northampton County's larger police departments, he conservatively estimates that his officers are tied up 15-20 hours a month at central booking. This creates what he calls "gaps in police coverage."

President Judge Stephen Baratta called this solution "good government at the local level," and was pleased at the amount of cooperation between different governments and police departments. In his view this streamlining addresses complaints about public safety,reduces stress on magisterial District Judges and ended up costing the County nothing. "I give the administration a lot of credit," he announced, adding that he and brown have a "good working relationship."

Magisterial District Judge Jim Narlesky assured everyone that defendants will still have a prompt preliminary arraignment. But how will he know what bail to set? That question was answered by magisterial District Judge Richard Yetter, who has been working as night judge for the past week.

He stated officers fill out a short background on each person brought in, including prior convictions and other factors to be considered in determining bail. If there is a pressing issue, he will contact pretrial services or the arresting officer.

Northampton County has used central booking since 2007. In a brief tour of the facility, it appears there are two holding cells and a separate room where a defendant can speak to the magisterial District Judge.

What if it gets crowded?

"We've got plenty of room next door," said Deputy Warden David Penchishen, as he was searched before being admitted to central booking.

He stated everyone is searched.

No exceptions.

By the way, it's hard as hell to get in there, although Judge Dally told me later in the day that he could get me in there real fast.

You ring some buzzer and then wait 20-30 years for the gate to open. I stood outside with another reporter and we both froze our asses off as we waited.

I'm pretty sure I heard the bastards inside, laughing at us.

Every now and then, it sounded as though the gate was about to open, but then there'd be nothing. ... Except what I'm sure was laughter.

Thankfully, it was a lot easier to leave.

But not for Penchishen. He was on his way to another entrance, where he'd be searched again. "I'm setting an example," he told me.

I slipped my dip into his back pocket.

* Rudy Miller's account indicates there were 4,000 bookings in 2014, which is also what is claimed in a news release. Executive Brown's statement indicates there are 2,000 bookings per year. According to Administration sources, the 4,000 figure includes walk-ins. Brown's figure is limited to those who are brought in by police and hence is more accurate in this context.


Anonymous said...

Barrett seems like a phony. A year ago he was justifiably critical of Brown stonewalling hires in the court divisions. Now he claims to have a wonderful relationship with Brownie. Either Brown has found religion or Barratta has a short memory.

Anonymous said...

Were you going to mention the part where an officer had you remove your dip from your pocket before you were allowed access?

Anonymous said...

Does this now mean that if you are arrested, you go to jail before your arraignment? People who may have been released on their own recognizance or unsecured bail will now spend a night in prison. What's next, Monday to Friday, 9-5, and the rest of the time you sit? What are the projected costs for this? How is that saving the taxpayers money?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anyone who is arrested is placed in a holding cell, either at the police station or in jail, before his preliminary arraignment. There is a requirement in the rules of criminal procedure that these be held within a reasonable period of time. There is always a night judge on duty. But a person who is arrested in the middle of the night may sometimes wait until 7 am before he or she is preliminarily arraigned and bail is set. Until then he sits in a holding cell. There is no cost for this new system. It is saving taxpayers money because police man hours are no longer being wasted. Instead of sitting with the Defendant, police officers are returned to the street and can return to their jobs. This reduces overtime and enhances public safety.

Anonymous said...

The nuts and bolts to this approach were screwed by al crivellaro not keen. Mr keen can't make decision, not even if his life depent it on it.

Anonymous said...

Deputy warden penchisen is a moron, he stated we have plenty of room, the prison is overcrowded, jackass.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"The nuts and bolts to this approach were screwed by al crivellaro not keen. "

That must be why he wasn't there. Maybe he was busy explaining another fender bender in the courthouse parking lot.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Deputy warden penchisen is a moron"

He was joking and you have no idea what overcrowding is.

Anonymous said...

Not one administrator from Al on up figured it out. I'm sure a Lieutenant ( Diacodgiannis or Ziegler) did all the leg work and Administration just took the credit. Penchisen was a coward as a correction officer who cried when he didn't get what he wanted. He never worked the jail and climbed the ladder on Buskirk's skirt tails. Al, he is just another back stabbing felon. Keen is a puppet with Brown's hand up his ass who tries to intimidate his staff by being a bully. You say that it will not cost the county money to run center all booking, you,will never know, and it will be hidden in the jails cost. Who do you think will have to handle all the detainees? The timid booking staff. Who is going to subdue the detainees when they become unruly? Yep, you guessed it. Correction staff. Oh, holding cells, two of them. Hahaha. IDIOTS!

God bless all my fellow Sisters and Brother who work in then Prision.