People arrested and jailed for misdemeanor crimes in Lakewood might have noticed that they’re being bused between their cells and the courtroom.
On June 8, Lakewood began transporting its misdemeanor arrests from the Pierce County Jail to Lakewood Municipal Court.
Those inmates are brought in through a secured area, accompanied by two of Lakewood’s finest. People in the courtroom are screened, just like at the County-City Building.
Kathy Westerdahl, Lakewood’s director of court services, said the change won’t save the department money. (Any savings is offset by transportation costs)
The move has already made the court more efficient, as judges, clerks and others who work for the Municipal Court no longer have to drive to Tacoma.
“In the long-run, this may even become more cost-effective,” she said.
Below is the start of my story that will run in the print edition.
By Brent Champaco
The News Tribune
Lakewood’s misdemeanor inmates are now traveling 11 miles south from their Tacoma prison cells to appear before a judge.
On June 8, the city began holding arraignments, warrant hearings and other appearances related to its municipal court at Lakewood City Hall.
Kathleen Westerdahl, the city’s director of court services, says the new venue has made the court’s job easier, as judges, lawyers, clerks and anyone else who works with the municipal court no longer has to drive to the County-City Building on Tacoma Avenue South.
The change requires Lakewood police officers to pick up inmates arrested on misdemeanor charges in Tacoma, drive them to Lakewood City Hall and return them to jail once their appearances are complete.
Westerdahl said the room at the County-City Building where the municipal court used to meet was just that – a room.
"We didn’t have access to our computer system," she said. "There were no fax machines, telephones. We’d have to use our cell phones to make a call."
"It is something we’ve been wanting to do to become more efficient," she added.