The decision to close the Taft Court house to criminal proceedings is going to affect a lot of people on both sides of the law.
Not only will people accused of breaking the law have to travel to Lamont to appear in court, the people that arrest them will have to deal with travel time.
Reports and evidence that the district attorney needs to review before signing complaints will have to be driven to Lamont.
Officers will have to drive there to testify at preliminary hearings, and inmates being held in the taft jail will also have to be transported to Lamont now.
All in all, it adds up to time and money the Taft Police Department can't afford to waste.
But it has no choice now that the decision has been made to move all criminal, felony and some traffic cases to Lamont after September 9.
Now, police just have to drive down to the courthouse or go to the county building next door to have warrants signed, deliver reports to the district attorney and get criminal complaints.
In six months a 5-minute drive will turn into a 90-minute round trip at least, not counting all the time spent in court or with the D.A.
Taft Chief of Police Ed Whiting said the department is starting to look at ways to avoid making too many trips to Lamont, and is working with the Kern County Sheriff to see that all inmates held in the Taft Jail are transported to court by the Sheriff's transportation units.
Now, all inmates are transported from the Taft jail to court.
Taft has a level I jail, meaning inmates can be held overnight and up until their first court appearance, wafter which they become the responsibility of the county sheriff. Since the KCSO books many of its arrested suspects in Taft, Whiting said he's hopeful that the agreement can include transport to court at county expense for both city and county inmates.
If Taft PD becomes responsible for transport of its prisoners, it could create big problems for the city by taking another sworn officer off the streets for several hours a day.
“That's resources we don't have,” Whiting said. “ I think the sheriff's office is going to have to run a van over here.”
The Sheriff profits from the deal because Taft deputies can book most of their arrests in Taft instead of having to drive to the central receiving facility in Bakersfield to book them.