Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis wants a report from Police Chief Mike Chabries on allegations that county jail officials are refusing to house in their overcrowded jail people arrested by Salt Lake police officers.
Allegations raised in news accounts suggest Salt Lake County Jail officials are jailing those arrested by deputies but refusing those arrested by Salt Lake police officers, Mike Zuhl, chief of staff for Mayor DePaulis, said Monday.Zuhl referred to an incident during which county jail officials refused to jail an arrested man because he had tested positive for human immunodeficiency virus, an AIDS-related virus.
Jail officials required the arrested man be seen by a doctor before he could be admitted to jail, Salt Lake police Capt. Aaron Kennard said.
"But the officer and the supervisor on the scene decided that there was too much going on to spend two to three hours being tied up with that (taking the man to a doctor), so they decided to kick him loose," Kennard said.
"If it gets to the point where people who really need to be behind bars are being released . . . then we've got a serious problem," Zuhl said.
The county has refused to jail people for medical reasons before, Kennard said. But the more common problem arises from simple overcrowded conditions preventing officers from booking misdemeanants into jail, he said.
The mayor was expected to request a report from Chabries Monday, Zuhl said. Additionally, city officials may meet with Salt Lake County commissioners to discuss the issue.
"I don't want to suggest it's a massive problem," he said, "but I think we are all going to have to work more cooperatively to work out the short-term problem."
The county is making plans to build a new, 350-bed, $10 million jail on the Jordan River just north of 33rd South, which could relieve pressure on the county's bulging facilities. Temporary jail facilities may be built in space just vacated in the Metropolitan Hall of Justice by the police department, which recently moved to new facilities.
Additionally, Kennard said he will meet with jail officials Tuesday to "reaffirm" jail policy. "We just need to find that common ground," he said.
Possible solutions to the problem include finding the resources between the city and the county to enable arrested people to undergo a doctor's scrutiny at the jail instead of at a separate hospital facility, Kennard said.