Sheriff: County can’t carry out all warrants

With 1,100 active bench warrants issued, Lycoming County sheriff’s limited staff must decide if detainees are worth the cost of their extradition, said a deputy sergeant, at Tuesday’s commissioner’s meeting.

A contract allowing the county’s domestic relation’s office to pay the sheriffs for their work in carrying out their arrest warrants — mostly consisting of the failure to appear in court or pay child support — was originally approved on April 4, but due to a clerical error concerning its conclusion, it needs re-approved.

If approved, it will now end on Sept. 30, 2020.

Eric Spiegel, deputy sergeant, said there are no deputies who exclusively fulfill warrants and they must work them into their schedule.

“It’s a question of how far do you go for a bench warrant,” said Spiegel. “We’re really conservative when it comes to that. We really have unwritten guidelines as far as how far we’re going to go outside of Pennsylvania.”

This is also balanced with the severity of charges, with more serious allegations being worth the distance.

Though the number of active warrants has been halved from about 2,200 since 2010, Spiegel said it’s “a never-ending job, all day long.”

Through various systems, the arresting party puts out a “hit,” and the county who issued the arrest warrant must respond within 10 minutes or they receive a written notification and a reprimand from the state, Spiegel said.

“We have to work these. You can’t issue bench warrants and not respond to them,” said Spiegel.“If we don’t pick them up, we have to base that on good criteria.”

The sheriff’s office often partners with other agencies if domestic relations detectives are busy.

For the contract specifically, Spiegel said, it’s “a good agreement because it brings some additional revenue back to the county.”

Stephanie Tribble, director of domestic relations, said she tries to limit the amount of bench warrant fees that are paid out by utilizing their detectives.

“The number of bench warrants that the office of domestic relations issues varies. We can issue multiple ones each day, we vacate them frequently,” she said.

On average, Tribble said she estimates there around 200 warrants issued per month.

“The bench warrants are only issued if they have failed to pay a purge that was sent by the court or failed to appear in court,” said Tribble.

The commissioners are slated to act on the approval at the next meeting.

In other business, the commissioners approved a grant application to fund the Williamsport Levee Project.

All commissioners were present. The next scheduled meeting is at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Commissioner’s Briefing Room, Executive Plaza, 330 Pine St.

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