April 24, 2014
Bell County Jailer Rex Miller voiced a concern during a recent Middlesboro City Council meeting.
A woman was brought to jail in late March with a broken leg. Miller said when Middlesboro Police Chief Jeff Sharpe was contacted about the woman’s health, he became belligerent and denied her treatment.
Miller explained the current policy reads that if an arresting officer believes the arrested person is injured first take them to a doctor, have them checked out and then taken to jail once they are medically cleared.
Miller said he called Mayor Bill Kelley to discuss the matter with him and received no return phone call. Kelley said he returned the calls and has been researching the matter in order to resolve the problem.
The medical report states that the leg was broken weeks before the arrest.
In response to the allegations made by Miller, Sharpe said it is possible that he lost his temper the night he spoke with Miller.
“I did probably lose my temper a little bit with Rex because this has been such an ongoing thing,” said Sharpe in regards to the jail not accepting some individuals who are in custody. “I would apologize for the way I put things the night I talked to Rex on the phone. I will not apologize for the basic sentiment behind it.”
Sharpe claims it has been an ongoing problem with getting the jail to accept some individuals.
“It has become more and more difficult to get people in jail,” said Sharpe. “They seem to come up with more and more reasons why they can’t accept people in their jail.”
Sharpe said the injured woman had been in the jail a week or two prior complaining with leg pain.
The night she was arrested, Sharpe said she was “mobile enough” to “raise Cain” at the location she was arrested and also walked to the patrol car under her own power. Sharpe alleges she began complaining once she got to the jail.
The woman did end up having a small stress fracture in her leg, according to Sharpe.
“We know when someone is injured to the degree they need medical attention,” said Sharpe. “We take them (to the hospital) before we ever take them over to that jail.”
Sharpe said if a person has an obvious medical problem they will make medical arrangements to release them with a court date or take them to the hospital for treatment.
“Practically, word has gotten around among some of these people (individuals breaking the law) that you don’t have to go to jail if you go over there (the detention center) and say something is wrong with you,” said Sharpe.