The Investigators: Weekend in Jail - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

The Investigators: Weekend in Jail

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By Ursula Madden - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) – If you commit the crime, you'll likely do the time – that's a reality each week for thousands of Mid-Southerners, many of whom end up spending a weekend in jail.

According to Memphis police, more people are arrested between 4:00 p.m. Friday and 1:00 a.m. Saturday than any other time of the week.

When a person is arrested, he or she first goes to the Intake Center at 201 Poplar,  where Officer Kenneth Thompson works.

"This area right here is one of the most dangerous in all areas of the jail," he said.

Thompson, who's worked at the jail for almost 15 years, says he's seen just about everything.

"We try to tell them, ‘Look, we did not arrest you. We did not bring you here, but we are going to try make your processing in Intake as smooth as we can,'" he said.

Processing at 201 Poplar starts with a pat down and wand search by the arresting officer in the Sallie Port  Suspects are then brought into the Law Enforcement Lobby, where the Judicial Commissioner approves their arrest tickets and determines how high bond should be set.

Arrest tickets are matched to the accused with a thumb print, but before moving into Intake, there's a pat down, again by the arresting officer.

We followed Patrick Dotson into the Intake Center. Dotson faces eight counts of aggravated robbery and especial aggravated kidnapping in a pharmaceutical drug heist on December 17.

Before anyone makes it into Intake, they've been searched three times - twice in the Sallie Port and once in the Lobby.

If a suspect is wearing a red band, that means he must be strip searched.  Naked means no place to hide. Dotson was hiding 13 bags of marijuana that wasn't found until the strip search.

"It wasn't in his buttocks, thank God, this time," Thompson said. "It was in his private area."

Thompson estimates that officers in the Intake Center catch roughly 95 percent of contraband that suspects try to smuggle inside.
Officers at the jail don't have guns, but manage to maintain order even though they're outnumbered by the inmates.

Sometimes, ensuring the officers and inmates safety, comes down to force.

"A show of force," Thompson said. "You get three four officers my size, and we explain, you're going to walk on your own, or we are going to physically bring you inside of here."

Usually it doesn't come to that, but back-up is there with the press of a "man down button."

"Detention Response Team officers come through that door and assist us with the problem," Thompson said. "They're actually going to take over. They're trained for miner diffusion to riots in the jail."

Processing for the other inmates seemed to go smoothly on the weekend of our visit.  During booking, each inmate checks in his personal property, is fingerprinted, photographed, and classified, which determines where he will be staying while locked up at 201 Poplar.

If an inmate can't make bond, he's allowed to take a shower before changing into a jail jumpsuit.

Processing at Intake can take anywhere from four to ten hours, and certain crimes, including felonies or domestic violence, suspects are guaranteed to be locked up.

Patrick Dotson's bond was set at $1 million.  He's still in jail, and has a court date next week.

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