Police Department holding cell floor doesn’t drain
Mammoth Lakes Police Department (MLPD) has requested funds from the Town of Mammoth Lakes to remodel the floor of its holding cell because inmates are defecating on the floor and that waste doesn’t easily make it down the drain.
For those that haven’t been in the cell, access to a toilet is not the problem. The holding cell is equipped with a metal toilet and metal sink. The toilet is in the opposite corner from the entrance. The cell is a little less than seven feet wide and eight feet long. That’s not far away.
The problem arises when inmates defecate or vomit on the floor either because they are intoxicated or as Chief Davis put it, “being jerks.” He said that it’s a problem common to holding cells at police departments.
According to Chief Al Davis, hoses are not sufficient to get the waste down the drain.
“When you’re using a hose, it drains away from the drain,” Chief Al Davis said.
At Mammoth Lakes Town Council’s regular meeting on February 6th, he sarcastically told council, “It’s amazing when you dump two gallons of water and two ounces go in the drain.”
Unlike birdshot, the goal isn’t to scatter the waste, which can be a combination of feces, vomit, urine. It’s to get the waste down the drain. To do this, an officer reaches for a squeegee and pushes or drags the waste over the drain.
Chief Davis said that the drain itself is sufficient. It disposes of liquids, but the problem is getting the liquid over the drain. Solid waste cannot go down the drain and has to be picked up.
Town of Mammoth Lakes Engineering Manager Haislip Hayes said, “It [the drain] doesn’t drain the way they want them to drain.”
“They want the drain to act more like a sump.”
Hayes said, “It wasn’t designed for that use. But things have changed.”
To make the drain act more like a sump, the drain will have to be lowered or the floors will have to be ground so liquids don’t pool on the sides of the cell and instead flow into the drain.
“You can’t just change the grades,” Hayes added.
He isn’t sure how much the remodel will cost. Although Town Council allocated $10,000 for the remodel at a mid-year budget review during its meeting on February 6. Staff is still estimating the exact cost.
At that February 6 Council meeting, Mayor Cleland Hoff asked, “Why does that end up being our problem?”
Grady Dutton, Mammoth Lakes Public Works Director, said he expects the contractor to fix the issue out of good faith.
“It certainly shouldn’t have been designed that way. I doubt it was. It should not have been constructed that way,” Dutton told Town Council on February 6.
When MLPD moved into the building on Main Street in October 2017, the issue wasn’t recognized. But after about five instances, it has become a problem for officers cleaning the cell, who are fed up with the five number twos on the floor.
The Sheet asked for the identities of the defecators but according to Mammoth Lakes Police Department, those records are not public.
The Sheet obtained the architectual plans for the holding cell, but they did not specify the level of the holding cell floor.