ANN ARBOR – Officers in the Ann Arbor Police Department have developed a mobile arraignment program in response to community need during the ongoing health crisis.
With many courts operating virtually due to the pandemic, settling court cases has been difficult for those without tech access -- until now.
Officers Jim Anuszkiewicv and Kory Petterle recently created the department’s mobile arraignment program, setting up hours to meet with homeless individuals to help them take care of outstanding court cases and clear up warrants with an iPad and mobile printer.
“They’re on a first name basis with a lot of the folks who live on the streets,” said AAPD Lieutenant Patrick Maguire. “Obviously, if you don’t have the resources, it’s very difficult to take care of your court cases if you can’t get online right now.”
COVID has meant closed courts. Those without tech access - and the homeless - have been unable to clear up court cases. Our officers developed a program to bring the courts to the streets. Mobile Arraignments mean they can meet w/ officers, zoom with a judge & clear up warrants. pic.twitter.com/wCK4jkbV0k— Ann Arbor Police (@A2Police) November 9, 2020
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After realizing there was a need for mobile arraignments among marginalized community members, Anuszkiewicv and Petterle secured equipment from the department and began holding morning meetings at Liberty Plaza, typically handling around five cases over Zoom each week.
According to Maguire, the program is mutually beneficial for residents and the courts.
“It helps these folks so they have one less worry (in addition to) where to eat and where to sleep,” said Maguire. “It helps courts to clear up their docket and clear up any outstanding cases they may have."
The officers rely on word of mouth and social media to get the word out about the program.
“We want to offer fair and equitable service to everybody regardless of their means, lifestyle and ability to access technology,” said Maguire.