How far does the sheriff’s department travel to get fugitives?


Arizona, Colorado and Florida.

Those may sound like vacation spots to some, but they’re also states that the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department has traveled to recently to extradite fugitives with warrants in Jackson County.

The department was made aware May 15 that Joshua David Driver, 35, who had a warrant in Jackson County, had relocated from Seymour to Shalimar, Florida, after police conducted a traffic stop in Crestview, Florida.

A software system that links law enforcement agencies across the country together showed he had a warrant for a failure to appear in court for a felony theft charge.

“All 50 states are connected on it, and we send what we call switch messages back and forth,” Jackson County Sheriff Mike Carothers said. “That’s how we confirm the warrants.”

Driver signed the extradition documents, and Carothers made arrangements with jailers to make the nearly 10-hour-long drive to pick him up.

But the case involving Driver is not an exception. It’s something the department does with a degree of regularity.

“We may do one once or twice a month, I’d say,” Carothers said. “Most of them are short, like Louisville or Cincinnati, but we’ve been as far as California where we picked up one in San Francisco.”

The practice is not new, as Carothers said he can remember driving to Georgia and back to pick up someone on a Jackson County warrant when he was an officer.

It’s also something law enforcement is obligated to do, he said, because it’s part of serving the court.

“It’s our job because we serve the courts and take care of the paperwork,” Carothers said.

The cost of operating the program does not come at a cost to taxpayers, either.

The department spent $2,101 from the commissary fund through July on travel related to the program.

The commissary account is funded by inmates’ transactions while in jail, including extra food and phone calls.

Expenses include fuel, hotel stays and meals.

“A lot of that depends on if they have to stay in a hotel and the mileage it takes,” Carothers said. “Most of them don’t require a hotel. They’re just there and back.”

Other places they have traveled this year are Mississippi, South Dakota, New Mexico, Ohio and Illinois. Mileage on the department’s Dodge Caravan used to travel has reached 220,000 miles.

“We get around quite a bit,” Carothers said.

Sometimes, determining who will go can be difficult because of a shorter staff and availability. The department has 25 jailers, and Carothers has to have volunteers that will fit into the schedule’s rotation.

“It’s something where we have to find a plan of attack to see who is available to go,” he said.

Officers will go in some circumstances, Carothers said.

“If they’re a really bad guy, I might send an officer, but our jailers have the same training as an officer,” he said.

Sometimes, the department is made aware of the person with the warrant but cannot make arrangements to get them until their case with that local court is resolved.

“They have to go through the court system and then come back to our jurisdiction,” Carothers said.

Places they won’t travel? Outside the country. That’s a situation the federal government will handle, he said.

“That’s for the U.S. Marshals Service,” he said.

Even though the department is obligated to do the work for the court, it is worth it because it satisfies the principle of doing what is right.

“This crime could be against the state or a person, and they need to be held accountable for their crimes,” Carothers said. “Once they flee the state, they are saying to the judge and people of Jackson County that they can do anything they want and we can’t do anything about it. This is our way of getting justice and doing what’s right.”

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