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Gilbert paves way for police holding facility

PHOENIX — The cities of Gilbert and Chandler are one step closer to a new holding facility that Gilbert Police say will save officers in both cities time and money.

The Gilbert City Council approved a proposal in May to allocate funds to modify a detention facility in Gilbert that would allow police to hold detainees who are being booked into jail overnight rather than having to transport them to a county facility.

“The number one thing it’s going to do is it’s going to push police officer hours back onto the street,” said Gilbert Police Command Pete Smith.

Currently if someone is arrested with a misdemeanor charge that requires them to be booked into jail and held to see a judge, that person has to be transferred to the 4th Avenue Jail in Phoenix where they would stay overnight, then the next day be brought back to Gilbert or Chandler to see a city judge.

Smith said the proposal would instead allow officers in both cities to share a holding facility that could keep people booked into jail overnight so they can see a judge the next morning, without having to make the roughly 40-mile round trip.

“Basically we were taking the time, the man power, (and) paying Maricopa County a certain amount of fees to book them,” he said. “Just so that we could turn around and pick them right back up and take them right back to court.”

The roughly $300,000 proposal will see the city of Gilbert modify their property to become the holding facility, and Chandler, which has a larger police staff, will help populate it because the facility will need to be staffed 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, according to Smith.

“Officer ‘A’ makes an arrest where this person has to be booked for a misdemeanor charge that’s going to be seen in the Gilbert Court, they literally pull up now, they’re going to walk inside and they’re going to hand them over to the full time staff that’s there,” Smith said. “(Then) get back in their car and go back on the street.”

The new facility will not change the booking process for people arrested for felonies and Smith said the facility will only be used to hold people awaiting appointment with a judge and for not longer than 24 hours.

The only roadblock for the proposal to become a reality is approval by the Chandler City Council, which Smith said is expected next week.

“As soon as they approve it, we’ve already got our construction company on standby and then we start swinging hammers,” he said.

Barring any difficulties with the approval from the Chandler City Council, Smith said they expect the project to be completed and the facility in use by the beginning of September.