The following release was provided by State Sen. Will Brownsberger's Office:
Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian together with Middlesex police chiefs and Legislative leaders announced that a proposed regional lockup to serve communities across Middlesex County has moved a major step closer to reality.
After Sheriff Koutoujian, local officials and police chiefs secured House and Senate backing for the project in the final weeks of the Legislative session, the Executive Office of Administration and Finance committed to funding the $1.5 million estimated project cost using capital expenditures.
“Securing funding for the regional holding facility was a team effort that included every police chief in Middlesex County,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “A regional lockup will help save local departments money and allow them to take officers off prisoner watch and put them on community watch.”
"I'm very pleased that we could make this progress,” said state Senator Will Brownsberger, D-Belmont. “The Sheriff and the chiefs deserve great credit for developing this more efficient approach to custody."
The police chiefs of Watertown and Belmont are eager to see the facility. “I fully support a regional holding facility in Middlesex County,” said Watertown Chief of Police Edward P. Deveau. “Sheriff Koutoujian and his staff are better trained to provide care and custody of our prisoners being held overnight or over the weekend. It will allow us to direct our staffing to policing in our community.”
“This subject has been at the forefront of the Middlesex County police chiefs agenda for many years,” said Belmont Chief of Police Richard J. McLaughlin. “The program is a huge step forward. Once it’s up and running, it will most definitely alleviate a number of major issues for all the police departments within the county. It will help us to provide more police officers on the street and into the community, helping us to utilize our resources and manpower more effectively and efficiently. Every Middlesex County police chief applauds the efforts of Sheriff Koutoujian.”
Currently, in order for police departments to monitor and protect detainees in their custody, they are required to use limited staff resources that would otherwise be assigned in the field. Under a regional lock-up proposal endorsed by the Middlesex Chiefs of Police, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office would hold detainees in a safe and secure location at the Billerica House of Correction.
By removing the need for police departments to have a police officer posted at a holding facility, this lock-up proposal would constitute a better, more efficient use of manpower, while saving resources and protecting public safety.