Beatty board: County lied over jail closure

BEATTY — In a letter to various public officials, the Beatty Town Advisory Board voiced its concerns regarding the closure of the town’s jail and the loss of local dispatchers. The letter also expresses the board’s dismay over a lack of open communication about the issue when the matter was being considered and decided.

Board members say what makes the decision “unsettling” is that Beatty has had a long history of partnership and communication with county commissioners and administrators. They have been frustrated in their efforts to get answers to questions on this issue.

In the letter they write, “A few months ago ‘rumors’ were circulating around town about the closure of the Beatty Dispatch Department. Beatty Town Advisory Board members acted responsibly and contacted the appropriate people within the County in an effort to confirm and or clarify the things being said. The goal was to confirm or discredit what was being said, and if the ‘rumors’ were true, to understand the potential impacts this change will have on the Community and how to move forward.”

The letter says that some individuals did respond saying that the matter had been discussed, but no decision had been made, and the board concluded that “basically the rumor was denied.”

It also says that the responses they got “shifted blame or cause of the rumor and the rumored changes from one group or entity to another.”

Furthermore, the letter reads, “Even after calls about this issue were made…questions posed by the Beatty Town Advisory Board members were not truthfully answered.”

The board says it finally got word about the closure “through the grapevine” on March 21. “None of this information was communicated to the town of Beatty or the Beatty Town Advisory Board by any Commissioner, Nye County Official, or Sheriff’s Office representative.”

“Once again, Beatty Town Advisory Board members reached out to the appropriate people in Nye County for answers. This time there was confirmation that these changes were planned, but responsibility and accountability for the decisions and the lack of communication with the public, specifically Beatty citizens, was shifted.”

The letter goes on to detail the board’s concerns about the changes.

The board sees several problems with the closure of the Beatty jail.

Many of the people housed in the jail are people with little income. If they are taken to Pahrump, and then released, they may not have the means to get home.

The board wonders if this will impact the Beatty Justice Court. “Will people be transported to Pahrump for holding and then transported back to Beatty to appear in court? What are the anticipated transportation and salary costs?”

“You may be aware that in most cases there is only one deputy on duty in Beatty. Transport of detainees will take that deputy out of his or her service area for upwards of half of their shift. What is your plan of action should a situation arise that requires a deputy on duty in Beatty while they are transporting to Pahrump or Tonopah?”

The letter also says that “the loss of even two quality jobs in Beatty is very concerning” and discourages economic growth.

Beatty’s economy is largely based on tourism, especially visitors to Death Valley, and “the visibility and responsiveness of our law enforcement officers” contributes to the good reputation of the town with tourists.

“Citizens also feel more secure knowing that in an emergency they are talking to someone who knows this area, who is better equipped to get the help they need to them faster. Dispatchers who live in this community, who know this community, helped to create this environment for tourists and residents. The decision to close dispatch in Beatty and route all emergency calls through Pahrump has left the Citizens of Beatty feeling uncertain and discounted.”

The board also expresses concern about the “reliability and sustainability of the radio communication system that will be used to contact and dispatch the on duty deputy or the Beatty Fire/EMS Services.” It is their understanding that the system has not been adequately tested.

They also wonder whether the equipment left in the Beatty facility will be properly maintained as a back-up and who will operate it.

The letter notes that the sales tax rate was recently increased to raise funds for public safety, and asks that the budget be revisited “to see if the dispatch and jail closures can be averted and services be restored to our Community on a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week basis.”

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