New Wheels for Sheriff's Department
It's never been easier to transport prisoners in Cole County, thanks to the department's new van which holds up to 11 inmates while it shuttles them between the jail and courthouse.
A video camera in back helps officers keep an eye on the prisoners, and barriers separate inmates from each other.
"We have the ability to isolate someone who might be self harmful, or might want to harm other people," explained jail superintendent Russ Bemboom. "We can isolate them so they don't have room to move around or wiggle."
And, a regular patrol car can move only three prisoners at a time. So, the van does the work of three patrol cars, with one-third the officers.
Using the van also frees up patrol cars so officers can do the jobs they were hired for.
"Even with our current staffing situation, I've found once this week that myself, my chief deputy and the jail superintendent were all up in court, just manning the prisoner transport," said Sheriff Greg White.
Money from a sales tax passed in 2001 paid for the $35,000 van and its cage.