Questions about how to handle arrestees that may need medical assistance before being lodged into the local jail drew a lengthy discussion at this week’s fiscal court meeting.

“I just want to follow the proper policy and procedures to assure an arrestee has received medical attention they may need and also to have documentation to relieve any liability to the county if they chose not to accept it,” said Phil Gregory, Logan County Jailer.

For Sheriff Stephen Stratton, clarity is what he is seeking for his deputies, who according to him, have been unsure at times where to take an arrestee that declines treatment but cannot get booked into the jail.

For Gregory, documentation is what it’s all about.

“I need officers to take those arrestees who require medical attention into the hospital, and if they refuse treatment, have a licenses physician sign off on it,” said the jailer. “This protects not only the jail but the county as well.”

Stratton said he was fine with his officers getting either medical clearance from the hospital or obtaining proof through paperwork and/or body camera footage that showed an arrestee declined medical services.

“Absolutely — we’re great with that,” Stratton said. “We’ve been doing most of those steps already.”

What started the discussions about policy was a particular case brought the court’s table involving a woman who was arrested after being stopped going 96 mph on 68-80. According to the citation, the woman, who complained of head trauma, refused a breathalyzer and blood test. When the deputy brought her to the detention center, the facility nurse made the call she needed to seek medical treatment before being booked into the jail.

According to Stratton, she refused to be taken to the hospital for medical treatment. The deputy instead called District Judge Ken Williams who advised the deputy to issue her a citation, court date, and release.

Magistrate Thomas Bouldin was very vocal at Monday’s meeting about that decision saying that never needed to happen.

“So just let her out? Just open the door, uncuff her, and say see ya later? So now we have an intoxicated lady and we are worried about her medical situation and we are just going to let her walk the street. Doesn’t seem we are really worried about her well-being, much less the well-being of the general public. I don’t think it’s wise to let somebody who is intoxicated back out on the street. It’s not smart or good for our constitutes. We are going to have to come up with an agreeable solution because I don’t want a drunk person let back out on the streets.”

Sheriff Stratton said he totally agreed but also still wanted clarification on situations that arise where refusal of treatment leaves officers in the middle.

“One of the issues is, you get to the hospital or they tell you blatantly right out of the gate (they refuse treatment). Since this (case) was brought up, she refused five different tests. She said I’m not taking anybody’s tests. She was very compliant and very understanding. She was very coherent but she refused to take the test,” said Stratton.

According to Gregory, the jail would have admitted her if she had come back with the proper documentation.

The jail already has a policy in place to address those who must seek medical treatment before being booked into jail if they fall under a plethora of symptoms. Under 501 KAR 3:120 — A person in need of emergency medical attention shall not be admitted into the jail until a medical examination is conducted. However, Gregory requested the court adopt additional policy through the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo) the county’s insurance provider.

The court voted down Gregory’s request after a motion to pass it was made by Bouldin and seconded by magistrate Robert Chyle. Magistrates Tyler Davenport, Jack Crossley, Barry Wright, and Jason Harper voted no. Judge-Executive Logan Chick voted yes.

“I don’t see anything extravagant about the policy KACo is recommending but I think we have a bigger problem here than policy,” said Davenport. “We can add to policy here and there but to be honest, after the public heard “jailer disappointed in magistrates for not approving policy” (in News-Democrat & Leader), I got several phone calls from law enforcement officers saying they find it difficult and have anxiety about if they will be accepted at the jail or not. And I thought Phil probably doesn’t know that. Phil is operating an entire jail. He can’t know what’s going on day and night. Phil needs to know. I don’t want the fiscal court to create a bigger gap between law enforcement and the jail because we are all on the same team. We are here to protect the people in this county and people that are breaking the law, they need to go to jail and get them off the street. There needs to be some common ground met. I know there is leadership from all agencies that can do that. Phil has proven his leadership. Sheriff Stratton has proven his leadership. Y’all can figure this out. Y’all are great elected officials. At this time I don’t want to create a larger gap until the are some issues solved between agencies. I don’t want the jail to be anxious about things that are happening from law enforcement and I don’t want law enforcement to have extra anxiety on them when they are out protecting our public. So that’s just my take. I’m not pointing fingers at anybody. I just think the agencies have issues to work out.”

Bouldin said he encouraged all departments to work together to protect our citizens.

“We are all going to disagree at some point and some time but this cannot be a power struggle we have to work together and sit down and talk,” said Bouldin. “I think that with all the common ground discussions going on, I’m not too sure it wouldn’t be a good idea for the judge to sit down with these departments and hash out some differences if you’ve got them. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s not personal, it’s just business to work things out so they don’t come to a head where somebody’s gonna end up getting hurt one of these days no matter which side ends up being right or wrong. Logan County is going to lose at some point if we keep on making bad decisions.”

Magistrate Jason Harper followed Bouldin’s statement saying, “I think whether we approve this (new policy) or not, this isn’t the issue. I think what we have discussed this morning is the issue and I hope as Thomas says, the departments can work through it and make progress.

Saying he was confused, sheriff Stratton said it sounded like there is an issue between departments.

“There isn’t an issue between departments. That’s what today is about. It’s clarification,” said the sheriff.