Aberdeen Police Chief Steve Shumate briefs City Council about public safety considerations of the homeless camp at a workshop on Jan. 29. (Thorin Sprandel | Grays Harbor News Group)

Aberdeen Police Chief Steve Shumate briefs City Council about public safety considerations of the homeless camp at a workshop on Jan. 29. (Thorin Sprandel | Grays Harbor News Group)

APD Chief Shumate says jail often at capacity

Following public comments about drug use and lawlessness in and around the temporary homeless camp behind Aberdeen City Hall, Aberdeen Police Chief Steve Shumate gave a report at last week’s City Council meeting detailing how full the jail is and how that affects who the police arrest and how long they’re able to hold them.

Aberdeen operates a 24-bed, 18-cell jail. The police department assigns a status based on how many people are being held at the jail. The jail is in green status when there are less than 14 inmates, Shumate said.

“That means we can arrest anyone who has committed a crime,” he said.

If the jail has between 14 and 18 inmates, the jail goes into orange status which triggers restrictions on who the police will arrest, he explained.

“When we’re over 18, it’s called a red status. We are only arresting felons or mandatory misdemeanors such as domestic violence assault,” he said.

Chief Shumate said that the weekend of Feb. 14-16 was typical for the jail this time of year.

“Friday and Saturday, we had 22 inmates. Sunday, we had 21 inmates,” the chief said last week. “During that time period, the Aberdeen Police Department had 29 arrests made. Of those 29, there were 20 individuals who were booked into the city jail, but there were 17 who had to be released because of the jail status,” he said.

“Sometimes, we may release somebody who’s already in the jail, if there’s someone else who’s a higher priority. It really is a balancing act for our corrections staff to have to work through,” he added.

Of the 29 arrests, there were six felons and the crimes included the possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, domestic violence assault, child endangerment, possession with intent to deliver, failure to register as a sex offender, probation violations and multiple theft charges, he said.

Shumate pointed out that none of arrests were from the recent prostitution sting that resulted in 16 arrests.

“I think everybody knows we’re a very busy agency, but our jail is typically pretty full. And this is February, so you can just imagine what the jail is like during the summer months,” he added.