A 600-mile interstate drive in one day may sound like an odyssey for many, but for deputies in the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office Court Services Division, it’s all in a day’s work.
Major Jeffrey Balzer, the head of the corrections and court services division with the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, said deputies in his division frequently drive hundreds of miles in a day to pick-up or drop-off prisoners or defendants in ongoing court cases.
“If the person it’s someone in Ohio, it’s pretty easy,” Balzer said. “We make arrangements with [county jails or correctional facilities] and two deputies go pick them up.”
Balzer said if the subject is in an adjacent state two deputies will take a cruiser and drive to go pick them up. Balzer said sending two deputies is optimal because they can trade driving responsibilities and so the deputies can back each other up.
Balzer said recently two deputies drove 300 miles one way to pick up Arminda Martin, the owner of Fairview Memorial Cemetery currently facing dozens of theft charges, from the Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia and drove her 300 miles back to Ohio so she could be arraigned in Delaware County Common Pleas Court.
“If they are several states away we contract with a transportation service,” Balzer said. “It’s cheaper that way and a better use of taxpayer dollars.”
Balzer said that on rare occasion deputies have flown out to pick up a prisoner and flown them back to Delaware County. Balzer said the sheriff’s office also cooperates with the U.S. Marshals Service when it comes to interstate extradition.
Balzer said the county is reimbursed for the money it spends on gasoline for extradition trips and said the costs are included in a defendant’s court costs.
“For example, executing a warrant to convey would incur $20 and the cost for the first mile is $2 with each additional mile at $1,” Balzer said in an email. Balzer noted that reimbursement to the sheriff’s office from the clerk’s office only occurs when payments are made by the defendant to the court.
The Court Services Division of the Sheriff’s Office has 15 deputies, Balzer said, and they are almost always in motion.
“Every day they are out there, executing warrants, picking up prisoners, transporting prisoners to a mental health facility or serving court papers,” Balzer said.
Balzer said the trips do contribute to wear-and-tear on deputy’s vehicles, and the vehicles are routinely maintained at the county service center.
“It is an expense, but it’s all part of doing business,” Balzer said. “It’s an important part of the whole court process. I think our guys do a great job. Every day they are working to make sure everything runs smoothly.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.