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Supervisors Back Inmate, Staff Transfer to New Jail : Detention: Sheriff’s plan would close men’s jails at El Cajon, Las Colinas when East Mesa facility opens.

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

The County Board of Supervisors Tuesday gave preliminary approval to closing down the men’s jails at El Cajon and Las Colinas and transferring the inmates and staff to the East Mesa Jail by Jan. 1.

Supervisors acted on the recommendation of Sheriff Jim Roache, who said the transfer of 251 inmates from the El Cajon Jail and 600 prisoners from the Las Colinas Jail to East Mesa could be done without any hitches.

The $44-million East Mesa Jail is nearing completion and scheduled to open later this year. Sheriff’s spokesman Dan Greenblat said that Roache has recommended double-bunking the facility, which would bring its inmate capacity to about 1,400.

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Besides shutting down the two East County jails, the board also gave preliminary approval to a proposal that calls for the county to lease unused jail space at East Mesa to state and federal law enforcement agencies.

The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service has expressed an interest in housing some federal prisoners there.

These and other proposals, including an operating plan for the new jail, will be discussed by supervisors at their June 11 meeting.

In other sheriff-related matters, the board approved Roache’s plan to use $455,000 from asset forfeiture funds to upgrade the county’s crime laboratory. The funds come mostly from assets seized from drug dealers.

Roache’s predecessor, Sheriff John Duffy, and supervisors battled last year over control of the asset forfeiture funds. Duffy had deposited the funds in a separate bank account and was disbursing money from it without the supervisors’ approval.

The dispute resulted in a legal battle that has since been resolved. According to an understanding reached between Roache and the board, the sheriff will notify supervisors of all expenditures. Board members said they will approve most expenditures as long as they meet federal guidelines.

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“This goes to show that the Sheriff’s Department and the board are now cooperating at an unprecedented level,” Greenblat said.

Roache was also granted board approval to begin a pilot television program to provide state-of-the-art training for deputies.

The Sheriff’s Department will subscribe to the privately operated Law Enforcement Television Network, which uses satellite technology to provide training films on issues such as survival in dangerous situations and leadership training.

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