TOWANDA BOROUGH — The Towanda Borough Council moved to draft a letter to be sent to Bradford County President Judge Maureen Beirne concerning the possible transfer of the responsibility of transporting inmates at the Bradford County Correctional Facility from the Sheriff’s Department to the arresting police departments in their most recent meeting last week.
In December, Bradford County Sheriff C.J. Walters proposed transferring the responsibility of transporting inmates to and from their preliminary hearings in the magisterial court system to the police departments that originally arrested the inmates. The change was slated to take effect on Feb. 1.
On Jan. 15, Bradford County police departments, the sheriff, and other county officials came together for a meeting on the issue after multiple police departments voiced concerns over the change. It was revealed in the meeting that a court order from Bradford County President Judge Jeffrey A. Smith in 1994 outlined the dates and times for court hearings in the magisterial court system and stipulated that “it shall be the duty of the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office to transport any and all detainees housed at the Bradford County Correctional Facility.”
In late January Walters told the Review that he would not pursue the transfer of responsibility this year and would honor the court order, but would not rule out the change occurring at some point in the future.
“It has become apparent that the Sheriff’s Office is not concerned with the efficiency of local law enforcement nor the fiscal responsibility to Bradford County taxpayers,” the letter from the council read after asking the judge to continue to uphold the 1994 court ruling. “To make such a drastic change to the operation of our law enforcement system in the county without discussing it with the police departments or municipalities is very concerning.”
The letter would go on to state that the borough is strongly opposed to the proposal of the transfer of responsibilities as it would result in immediate tax increases in the municipality without reducing county taxes and would result in the duplication of resources throughout the county.
The letter was also sent to local police departments, Pennsylvania State Police and the Sheriff’s Office.