Mesa County Adopts New Arrest Standards

Local law enforcement agencies have adopted a new set of arrest standards in Mesa County. The standards include making fewer arrests and writing more citations for offenders who aren't considered dangerous.

It used to be you drink, you drive; you go to jail. But now a days there's just no room at the Mesa County Jail for these offenders and it's got law enforcement agencies adopting alternatives.

About two years ago a consultant came to Mesa County and recommended that new arrest standards be created to ensure the detention facility is used to hold only those who are accused of serious crimes, pose a risk of violence, or are believed to be a flight risk.

District Attorney Pete Haughtzinger supported the initiative and says since adopting it the jail has been able to house more serious offenders which is its purpose.

According to Sheriff Stan Hilkey, virtually every entity involved with law enforcement helped to fashion the standards and slowly implement them over the summer. Under the new set of rules officers are directed to release offenders with citations for: Acts classified as petty offenses, Class I or II Traffic Offenses, and all Misdemeanors except domestic violence. Those arrested for DUI's are to be released to a responsible party or taken to Colorado West Mental Health's Detox Center.

The new standards are also affecting the way local bail bondsmen do business. Instead of bailing out DUI offenders they find they are making more money when those who are cited fail to appear in court.

The Mesa County Jail is designed to house 336 inmates, but on any given day the population is around 375 and on the weekend's it's known to hit 400. But with these new arrest standards in place, a Meth Treatment Facility being built and new programs in place like the Work–Ender and Meth Fast-Track Programs; Sheriff Hilkey hopes that while we can't control overcrowding at the jail, we will continue to do everything in our power to manage it.

The new arrest standards were adopted last month, and similar ones are being utilized in many communities along the front range.