Hancock grand jury recommends new jail

A new jail facility is one of several recommendations by a Hancock County grand jury that just ended its six-month term.

After a tour of the booking and holding facilities in Hancock County, the grand jury recommended construction of a new jail and reinforced holding cells at the booking facility on Longfellow Drive.

During 11 sessions from August to January, the grand jury considered 204 cases. They returned 136 true bills, or indictments, and 44 no true bills. Of those indicted, five were returned as habitual offender and three were returned as enhanced penalty. Eleven cases were passed to the next grand jury and eight cases were returned to law enforcement.

The grand jury also recommended:

n Continued training of law enforcement officers in proper safekeeping and presentation of evidence. “We recommend that departments establish a template to use when writing incident reports which will include a checklist of information necessary for indictment,” according to the report signed by jury foreman Joseph Gex.

n Clear audio and video of undercover drug investigations and DUI arrests. The grand jury recommended that confiscated drug money be used to purchase surveillance equipment as well as testing and first aid equipment and life jackets.

n Authorization for deputies of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department to use radar equipment to enforce existing speed limits due to increased population and traffic in rural areas.

n A review of the forestry commission’s staffing, salaries and equipment.

n The addition of a resource officer and school nurse for each school in the district, which would be funded by a millage increase to accommodate the education-funding shortfall.

By DONNA MELTON – dmelton@sunherald.com

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