After a countywide radio call in which Clayton County Sheriff Levon Allen said the Riverdale Police Department could not drop off arrestees at the Clayton County Jail until further notice, Riverdale Police Chief Todd Spivey told The Clayton Crescent that an existing agreement had been revised and that the department is again able to use the jail.
According to Spivey, CCSO “wanted to make a change to an interagency agreement document—just a small paragraph. I wasn’t in the office. The sheriff sent over an employee with a document. My assistant chief at the time wasn’t comfortable signing it, and so the sheriff called me. I was like, ‘Hey, I’m not in the office, I’ll be back in there tomorrow, I’ll just get it straightened out tomorrow.’ And the next thing I know, the radio traffic took place.”
Spivey did not specify what change Allen had sought to the interagency agreement, but that he “was able to get it squared away before the day was up.” The Clayton Crescent has filed an Open Records Request for the original and amended versions of the agreement.
He added that he and Allen “never discussed” the radio transmission.
“All I addressed was the document and the need for the change, I got clarity from GCIC [Georgia Crime Information Center, which is part of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation], and got it taken care of, and the information was rescinded, although I don’t think it was rescinded over the air.”
Spivey stopped short of stating what specifically had prompted the interagency dustup, beyond “something to do with the intake of our arrestees and the use of the ORI number as it relates to running any information relevant to their detention. Or detained inside the facility.”
An ORI (Originating Agency Number) is assigned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS). It identifies a law enforcement agency or authorized civil agency, allows those agencies to run criminal information checks electronically (with varying levels of access), and is used to account for how many arrests a certain agency makes in a year and to track a particular agency’s cases. “It goes on all of our incident reports, all of our booking information,” Spivey said, adding, “I don’t know if there’s any other purpose behind it.”
“Different sheriff’s departments do it differently. In this case, they—they being the Clayton County Sheriff’s Department—use the other departments’ ORI to run just that basic information,” Spivey said. “Criminal history, or a driver’s history if it is related to the charge….Through that number, they can track the number of homicides, the number of aggravated assaults, all those things that we used to send over to the FBI before we went over to NIBRS from the Uniform Crime Report. And also, that’s how they show up on their criminal histories. Under arrests, it’s always got that ORI number.”
Spivey confirmed that CCSO was asking to use Riverdale’s ORI number. Why?
“He and I did not get into the nuts and bolts of that, other than that was their GCIC audit and GCIC wanted them to make that change, and he couldn’t take our prisoners anymore if that change wasn’t made,” Spivey said.
“I took the original document that I had already signed earlier this year and then I took the document, a copy of the document that they wanted with, added a small change, I sent it over to the deputy director of GCIC, and said, ‘Hey, in the world of GCIC, is this a legal document or are y’all okay with it?’ And they said, ‘Yeah. Yup, y’all can do this.’ So, got it signed, got it straightened out, and got it straightened out to where the individuals we arrested will be accepted at the Clayton County facility.
“Because, at the end of the day, you know, that’s what we needed done. Get that straightened out. We don’t need a decline in our services to the community by not being able to jail those that need to be jailed.”
Here are the rules of the GCIC Council, which specify the kinds of information that a criminal background check contains, the levels of information that the system contains (including secret information), procedures for correcting a criminal record, security policies for handling criminal justice information, the conditions under which a contractor may access GCIC and FBI criminal justice information systems, what information goes into an access log when someone uses the terminal, and what to do if a GCIC audit finds that an agency is not in compliance. GCIC conducts audits every three years:
We’ve asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s GCIC to clarify the change Spivey said it approved.
Last year, a conflict between Columbus Police and the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office over whose arrestees got priority led to a similar dispute, according to GPB News and the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer‘s Tim Chitwood. At the time, the jail was overcroded and short-staffed. The sheriff’s department booked its arrestees first, making Columbus PD’s arrestees wait for hours. Normally, people are booked as they arrive.
We will add any comments from Sheriff Allen or CCSO about why he sought the change in the existing agreement with Riverdale PD, and what that change was.