The Meridian Police Department continues to house some of its prisoners at the city jail instead of taking them to the county jail, even though the city entered into a new jail contract with Lauderdale County last month.

Sheriff Billy Sollie told Lauderdale County supervisors Thursday that since last Friday, Meridian police have booked only 12 people into the Lauderdale County Jail. Sollie said in the past, the city brought in at least that many people each day.

The city and county’s new contract took effect Feb. 22. The former jail contract expired Jan. 31, and the city was housing all of its prisoners at the police department from that time until it entered into the new contract with the county.

Under the new contract, the city pays the county $23 per inmate per day, up from $20 under the old contract. In exchange, the county will honor the city’s desire for a more precise billing cycle.

Police Chief Benny DuBose said police plan to house their own prisoners if it appears they will be incarcerated for a short period of time.

“Anything that appears to be long term — 10 to 15 days or more — we will take to the county,” DuBose said. “We will keep those arrested for public drunk and other misdemeanors if they will be able to bond out within a couple of hours.”

DuBose said the decisions on where to house prisoners will be made on a case-by-case basis by the shift commanders. He said people arrested are usually asked whether they will be able to post bail quickly.

“We are trying to limit our short-stay prisoners at the county,” DuBose said. “It saves money and it saves man hours at the county. It helps both sides.”

DuBose said the city also continues to process felony arrests quickly so those prisoners can be reclassified as county inmates. Felony arrest hearings are heard in an alternate court that has been set up at the police department. After a felony prisoner has had a preliminary hearing, he becomes a county prisoner.

DuBose said he believes the contract negotiations with the county led to the city’s finding a more efficient way to conduct business.

“We needed to do it,” DuBose said. “It opened our eyes, and we may be in that position again and we need to be ready for it. But the staff has done a great job in making it work.”

IN OTHER BUSINESS

At its meeting Thursday, the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors approved the following actions:

To extend the county’s post-hurricane state-of-emergency until March 20.

To accept a trailer that was awarded this week to the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department as part of a money seizure on the interstate. The refrigerated trailer was donated to the county’s road department and could be used in a time of emergency.

To accept a new canine for the sheriff

department’s interstate interdiction unit. The new dog will be the department’s fifth, and will cost $9,800. The dog was paid for with seized drug money.

To reappoint George Buie to the Dalewood Sewer District Commission.

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