A commissioner’s suggestion that cash-strapped Hamilton County, In., should save money by arresting fewer people is raising concerns from area law enforcement officials and citizens, reports the Indianapolis Star. Commissioner Steve Dillinger said that the county sheriff and other local police agencies will be encouraged to issue summonses whenever possible to cut down on the cost of incarcerating suspects.
People accused of violent crimes or suspected of driving while drunk would still be arrested and taken to jail, he said. “We want officers to use discretion,” he said. “If they’re not a risk to society or a flight risk, give them a summons. Once you take them to jail, all of these different cost mechanisms kick in, and it gets a lot more expensive.” Some area law enforcement officials worry that such a policy could hurt efforts to keep the peace. Newly elected Sheriff Mark Bowen worries that Dillinger’s desire to jail fewer people would hamper deputies’ ability to do their jobs. Bowen disputed Dillinger’s assertion that keeping arrests low would save money, saying most suspects are able to bond out of jail in a short amount of time. Hamilton County spends about $32 million a year in criminal-justice costs, including about $146,000 in inmate health care, Dillinger said.