The take on intakeCory Gagnon has booked friends into jail.
By: Jen Cullen, The Republican Eagle
Cory Gagnon has booked friends into jail.
Doug Agenten once watched his partner get punched in the nose. He's seen a woman strip search herself.
Both detention deputies have been called every name in the book and seen their fair share of drunk or high arrestees fight themselves, scratch themselves and become paranoid, claiming officers are going to kill them.
Sometimes people who think they are God are even booked into the Goodhue County jail.
"It's an unpredictable job. It's high-stress," Sgt. Mark Bolster said of an intake officer's duties. "It's difficult sometimes to get a read on people."
Intake officers are the jail's first line of defense. They take arrestees off officers' hands and gather general information that is sent throughout the sheriff's department, to court staff and to the state.
Not always an easy task — especially when people being booked in are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the officers said.
"They just don't understand," Agenten said. "They tend to ask the same question over and over."
Intake officers must perform general and mental health screens, take a booking picture, get fingerprints and determine whether arrestees are calm enough to be held in a more comfortable waiting area — complete with television, phone and bathroom — or if they need to be placed in a bare-bones cell.
They also perform strip searches, when necessary.
About 95 percent of people getting booked in cooperate, Bolster said. Those who don't are usually drunk or high.
Intense training helps officers diffuse difficult situations, most of which are instigated by someone under the influence.
Talking, Bolster said, is key to keeping a situation from turning physical.
"People need to blow off steam and I understand that," he said. "But once the steam has cleared it's time to start talking about reality."
Bolster and Gagnon said most arrestees are scared and feel out of control. They are unsure about the booking process and are eager to go home.
Which is why intake officers must be empathetic while remaining professional — even if some of the arrestees are entertaining.
"Every single person who comes through the door is different and you have to figure all those people out," Gagnon said. "We have to deal with their emotions when they first get here, whether it's regret, anger, sadness ... add chemicals to the mix and it's all escalated to a different level."
It can take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes to book a cooperating arrestee into jail. People charged with gross misdemeanors or felonies are held in jail until they go to court.