Sheriff closing south county holding facility

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VENICE, FL - The holding facility known as the south county jail will be closing. Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight will be telling Venice city leaders why this week. Meanwhile, other law enforcement agencies which use it say it's going to have a big impact on how they operate.

Right now if someone is arrested in places like Venice or North Port they can be brought the few cells behind the Venice Police Department. A few times a day a van takes the prisoners to downtown Sarasota. Now each arrest will have to be driven up individually.

The Sheriff says crime is down. For example he points to a nearly 40% decrease of those being brought here by his agency each year compared to how many they brought in 2007. He says no medical staff or screening devices causes a huge liability. Closing the facility will save upwards of a million dollars a year he says.

Venice Police Chief Tom McNulty says it will have a negative impact on their operations. Officers having to spend more time going to downtown Sarasota instead on patrol. "In our particular case, to send an officer up to the Sarasota jail could take them off the road for probably an hour and half. It could put us at minimal manning. We are going to have to make some organizational decisions ourselves. Maybe ask for more manpower from the city."

Sheriff Knight says closing the facility is the right thing to do financially."The most important thing for me is to make sure I am running my operations as efficiently as I can. There is a million dollars there of citizens money that is not being used I believe appropriately."

The Sheriff says his department is the one who uses the facility the most. He will however be able to use the money to put six more deputies on the street. He says he expects to close the doors on the current facility in January.