Red Light Status: Jail full, officers wait outside with suspects



Posted on March 19, 2014 at 8:47 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 20 at 9:03 PM

SPOKANE COUNTY--The Spokane County jail was on red light status three times in just a few days in March. That means their booking area was so crowded that no one else could come in until it cleared up. That is a process that can last anywhere from one to three hours.

Officers, deputies and troopers are forced to wait in their cars with suspects until it is their turn to head in when there is a red light status.

The jail was on red light status Wednesday. Officials said it gets very crowded, very fast when there is a large warrant sweep or inmates are bussed in from other areas. When that happens, officers and deputies are essentially taken off commission and off the streets.

The red light status is something that baffles tax payers like Robert Bosse.

“I think they have better things to do,” said Bosse.

Bosse said he was outraged when he learned officials were forced to wait Wednesday afternoon while the jail was on red light status.

“It's very wasteful. There are better things for the officers to do,” said Bosse.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich agrees with Bosse, especially when staffing is already an issue.

“We're already really tight on manpower, have very limited resources...when we have manpower at the jail for two hours because they can't book someone into jail, it decreased manpower even further,” said Bosse.

Jail officials said going on red light status is rare.

Officials said the only real solution is a bigger booking area. The jail takes in about 30,000 inmates a year when it is only equipped for 10,000.

Officials said there is a master plan for a new jail but there were no immediate plans for that to happen.