A suggestion by members of Warren County’s Corrections Partnership Committee to change its name and assume more authority in an effort to keep from going dormant has put it at odds with the facility it was designed to assist.
Major Jason Walker of the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, says a Criminal Justice Committee is not needed and its proposed duties and responsibilities are those belonging to Sheriff Tommy Myers and his staff.
“I believe some of what has been submitted as the duties and responsibilities of the Criminal Justice Committee are the duties of the sheriff and his staff,” said Walker, who stressed his opinion might not be that of Sheriff Myers. “The sheriff was duly elected by the citizens of Warren County to be the person to deal with the criminal justice system. The sheriff then formed his staff to assist him with these duties.”
Committee members approved a name change to Criminal Justice Committee, a new mission statement and additional authority last week.
Among the committee’s proposed responsibilities would be to maintain communication with the local criminal justice system, work with stakeholders to formulate a plan to address immediate and future needs of the jail, and engage stakeholders (District Attorney, Public Defender, Judges, County Clerk, Probation, Sheriff, City Police, County Executive, City Mayor, etc.) in the criminal justice system with the Criminal Justice Committee.
“We have been doing what the Criminal Justice Committee suggests, day in and day out, for years,” said Walker. “We maintain communication and relationships with everyone in the criminal justice system on a daily basis. We speak and have meetings with the stakeholders every day.”
Walker voiced discontent for being the only county department required to report to two committees.
“The Sheriff’s Department already attends the Safety Committee and County Corrections Partnership meetings once a month,” said Walker. “We report the same things to both the Safety Committee and the County Corrections Partnership. Both committees have offered their support and listen to the needs of the Sheriff’s Department and the jail. I believe the sheriff is the only elected official that is asked to attend monthly committee meetings. Most other elected officials are only asked to give their quarterly report before the full County Commission.”
The comments were made in a written statement to commissioners and sent after Correction Partnership Committee members approved the changes. Unless changes are made, the committee is slated to go dormant once issues at the jail have been corrected.
During this month’s meeting of the Warren County Commission on Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 6:30 p.m., commissioners will decide if the proposed name change from County Corrections Partnership to Criminal Justice Committee and the change in duties and responsibilities will be allowed.