Bozeman Police Department Makes Changes Preventing Escapes - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Bozeman Police Department Makes Changes Preventing Escapes

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Bozeman Police installed windows and change of custody forms in interview rooms after Kevin Briggs walked out February 1, 2014. Bozeman Police installed windows and change of custody forms in interview rooms after Kevin Briggs walked out February 1, 2014.
BOZEMAN - The Bozeman Police Department made several changes to prevent people from escaping from the police station in the Gallatin County Law and Justice Center after a convicted rapist walked out February 1.

Windows in the interview room, custody transfer forms and a work station in the observation room are just a couple changes the BPD has made since convicted rapist Kevin Briggs walked out the Law and Justice Center February 1, starting a nearly three week, multi-state manhunt.

Documents showed that Briggs was left unattended for about a half-hour with a chair propped up against the door that was supposed to serve as an alarm if anyone were to leave the room.

An internal review said that the department would look into ways to better secure the interview rooms.

Those windows were the only thing that was changed to the building to help secure the facility.

Bozeman Police Chief Ron Price said that they are waiting on a legal opinion to secure the interview rooms some more.

 “Every indication is because of fire codes, because of insurance carriers, because there are rules that change between an interview room and a detention room, every indication is that there will not be locking the door,” Price said.

With the work station in the observation room, Price said officers won't need to leave people unattended to complete paper work.

The BPD has been sharing the same space as the Gallatin County Sheriff's Department and has been using the same interview rooms.

Sheriff Brian Gootkin said the rooms were more secure in the 1990's.

“There was a chain that was bulleted to the floor that people used to handcuff the defendants to,” said Gootkin. “Obviously a huge fire code situation, plus then it is actually turning into a holding facility, which has a whole different set of rules.”

Price said their policy changes make it clearer when it is appropriate or not appropriate to use a holding facility, such as the Detention Center directly behind the Law and Justice Center.

“The policy is something to give a little bit of a guideline as when it is appropriate to do that there and when it is appropriate to do that here,” said Price. “As an example, a juvenile offender cannot be taken to the Detention Center.  There are rules about sight and sound separation between adult offenders, so they will almost always exclusively held in an interview room or here in the building somewhere.”

Two juveniles also escaped from the BPD’s custody in 2008 and 2011.  Both fled the interview rooms in the Law and Justice Center.

A woman accused of mail theft also walked out of the interview room in 2004 when she was left unattended while an officer left to get a drink.

Gootkin said they rarely use the detention center when they are interviewing suspects, but do when it is safer for everyone.

“Let’s say for instance, they were on a fight with deputies and we had to physically restrain them,” said Gootkin. “There's a really good opportunity it is safer for everyone to do it in the detention center in the pre booking area.”

Gootkin said no one has escaped while in the Sheriff's Department's custody in the last 10 years.

Two police officers were suspended for two weeks without pay in connection to Briggs' escape last month.

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